Blog: Settlement and the Environment

Nov 11, 2020 | latest
If the water is not clean
If the air is not fresh
If our kai is not nutrient rich
We will suffer
Our water is our life’s blood, if we pollute the water, it contaminates the whenua and us.

Kia ora whānau

This month we look at what was discussed during the Settlement and Environment ZUI. From the outset, this topic was diverse, and all our panel members had different thoughts on what this meant to them, and how Settlement would support Whakatohea’s aspirations for Te Taiao; our environment.

The idea from the outset was to negotiate for ways that WHAKATŌHEA can exercise mana by having influence and some controls over whenua and moana within our traditional Whakatohea rohe, which was missing from the first 1996 Settlement endeavour.

To do this, the Trust set about to understand what the whānau aspirations were and use Settlement to achieve these aspirations through the Mana Whenua, Mana Moana and Mana Tangata redress strategies.

Our panel members had varied experience and interests on te taiao. Kimberley Maxwell lives and breathes the moana in her capacity as lead researcher on the Whakatōhea Case Study/Moana Project. Vaughan Payne has worked in the whenua space from an environmental management perspective, our Chairman Graeme has been a dairy farmer and worked the land and whaea Muriel Kelly’s passion was in air space and cleaning up the air quality around Ōpōtiki.

 “We are inseparable from our taiao, it is part of our whakapapa”.

What all our panel agreed on was that for too long, economic values far outweighed any decision making on our cultural, social and environmental values. So, if we were to have more of an input, we would need to put mechanisms in place to ensure that we have the ability to prioritise our own value systems over te taiao.

Getting back the whenua and the moana space is evident in the redress, but what Settlement also provides is the mechanisms to put back in place, those value systems which have meaning to Whakatōhea, at a hapū and Iwi level.

Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au.

The Whakatōhea Kaitiaki Forum is the key mechanism within the Settlement redress that links the moana and whenua spaces together. Our hapū, as kaitiaki on this forum will have influence and mana over these spaces. The other important mechanism which will allow us to influence in the DOC/whenua space is our ability to provide input into the Conservation Management Strategy BOP. This includes a decision-making framework (over the concessions process) and cultural materials plan. All of which again, instils our values over te taiao.

Whānau also got to hear Vaughn Payne’s thoughts on the difference between the 1996 Settlement and this Settlement with regards to the Environmental initiatives and why he opposed the 1996 settlement.

Collaboration and uri input was a key driver for supporting Settlement this time round for Vaughn.

“In 1996, our negotiators went straight to a Deed of Settlement with the Crown and as uri we were told we couldn’t keep negotiating but had to vote on that Deed of Settlement.

Compared to now, where the first thing that was negotiated was a high level Agreement in Principle where we were able to negotiate the details of that agreement to arrive at a Deed of Settlement before we have a final vote”.

In addition to the approach the negotiators took towards the Settlement process, ‘what’ was negotiated is also significantly different and more aligns with the values of Whakatōhea.

While the financial redress has increased, if we realign to our environmental kaupapa, Vaughn goes on to say that in 1996 there were 9 properties within the Settlement that totalled 18ha and those were Crown properties like the post office, the courthouse, and a quarry, but land with no real conservation values.

The current Settlement has over 30 properties (6692ha) with most of that land having huge conservation values, such as native bush, wetlands, estuaries, streams and coastal dunes.

“For me there’s a stark difference between 1996 and now in terms of what’s on the table”.

If you would like to hear more on this korero, jump over to our Facebook page to see the whole ZUI:

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