The Department of Conservation (DOC) is seeking public feedback on proposed legislative changes set to streamline the process of reclassification of stewardship land.
DOC Policy Director, Kayla Kingdon-Bebb said the move was an important step to support reclassification efforts.
“The goal is to speed up and simplify the reclassification process so land with conservation value is identified and managed appropriately, while land with very low or no conservation value can be made available for other uses,” said Ms Kingdon-Bebb.
DOC has launched a discussion document on proposed law changes it says will make the process for reclassifying and disposing of stewardship land more efficient and effective.
“The proposed law change will see more efficient public consultation and ensure the process to reclassify stewardship land is fit-for-purpose,” said Ms Kingdon-Bebb.
Feedback is being sought on:
- Improving consistency of public notification and submission processes;
- Enabling the national panels to carry out the public notification and submission process;
- Clarifying responsibilities for making recommendations to reclassify stewardship land to national park;
- Removing the statutory step to declare all stewardship land to be held for conservation purposes before it can be reclassified or disposed of;
- Enabling the Minister of Conservation to direct the proceeds of sale of stewardship land to DOC;
- Clarifying the status of concessions on reclassified stewardship land.
Along with the proposed legislative changes, It has been confirmed Ngāi Tahu cultural values and interests will be captured in the reclassification process through the addition of a Ngāi Tahu mana whenua panel to work with two national panels, DOC said in a statement.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere, Lisa Tumahai says the Ngāi Tahu-appointed mana whenua panel will provide information on stewardship land within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā to enhance the Minister of Conservation’s decision making.
“I’m pleased we have reached an agreement which properly recognises Ngāi Tahu as tāngata whenua and holding rangatiratanga over our statutorily recognised takiwā. It’s important we’re involved in this process to help the Crown understand the significance of the land it is making decisions about,” she said.
The mana whenua panel will share traditional mātauranga (Māori knowledge) with two national panels, DOC, and the Minister. Ngāi Tahu will also support the Minister’s decision making by providing information about mahinga kai places, as well as the future aspirations of the iwi.
Members of the mana whenua panel include Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio Chair Paul Madgwick, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura Cultural Pou Chair Maurice Manawatu, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae Chair Francois Tumahai, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu representative Gail Thompson.
“As a kaitiaki of their rohe, each panel member will bring their own mātauranga Māori, and will connect this kaupapa back to their whenua.”
As part of their mahi, the mana whenua panel will work with the national panels and DOC to develop and implement a public consultation process.
Ms Tumahai says while it’s important Ngāi Tahu environmental values are protected and enhanced, the reclassification process will also determine whether some land can be made available for other purposes.
“We want to protect native species, significant ecosystems, and traditional places for future generations. It’s also important that as part of this process mana whenua and the public have an opportunity to provide their views on whether economic activity should be undertaken in some places, if it is appropriate to do so,” she said.
The panels will take about eight months to undertake their work and provide recommendations, with the Minister of Conservation likely to make a final decision on the future of the land next year.
Visit doc.govt.nz/stewardship-land-consultation for more information on the discussion document. Submissions close Friday 18 March 2022.