- Last Thursday the Members’ Bill of Meka Whaitiri was drawn from the ballot in parliament, and is now lodged on the Parliamentary Order Paper. The bill is the Environmental Protection Authority (Protection of Environment) Amendment Bill. Ms Whaitiri proposes to insert a new objective in the Environment Protection Authority Act 2011 to ensure the Authority must, “aim to protect, maintain and enhance New Zealand’s environment”. In her view, this extended definition of purpose is required to ensure the Authority always puts environmental considerations ahead of other matters. National Party Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, however, considers that adding such words is superfluous, given the Authority’s sole purpose is to consider environmental matters. He has indicated the Government will therefore vote against the bill.
We have previously advised on provisions within this legislation area, particularly in relation to Māori and iwi concerns and submissions (Pānui 7/2012 refers). Our assessment has been that this legislation underserves Māori. In part this is because the Māori Advisory Committee established within the Act has a weak legislative mandate as it is unable to make binding recommendations on any party. The Committee provides case-by-case considerations upon request, is advisory only, and is effectively toothless. Accordingly from a Māori policy perspective there is scope to improve the legislative framework to better reflect Māori needs and aspirations. It is then surprising that Ms Whaitiri, who is the parliamentarian representing Ika Rāwhiti constituents – i.e. she represents Māori only – appears to have excluded matters which impact on Māori from her sole legislative proposal.
- Hinurewa Poutu and Dr Ruka Broughton have been appointed to the board of the Māori Language Commission / Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.
- Last week Te Puni Kōkiri launched Te Whakahura a Kupe, a web-based socio demographic database tool which disaggregates census data via iwi and rohe. The database includes 98 iwi, and data sets available include various health, education, employment and housing information collected from both the 2006 and 2013 censuses. (I.e. how many people of a particular iwi have employment, own their home, have tertiary qualifications, etc). In our view this is a particularly useful tool for researchers and policy advisors, it can be viewed here:
- On Wednesday Miraka received the inaugural ‘He Kai Kei Aku Ringa – Māori Excellence in Export’ award at the 2015 New Zealand International Business Awards.
- This week the Annual General Meeting of Te Ohu Kaimoana was held. Reports of the financial returns of both Aotearoa Fisheries and Sealord have arisen from this meeting, but are not yet publicly available. (We will review when published.)
- On Thursday three finalist for the 2015 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award for sheep and beef were announced. The finalist are Mangaroa Station (located north-west of Wairoa) Paua Station (located north of Kaitaia) and Maranga Station (located south-west of Gisborne). The winner will be named at the Awards dinner on May 29 in Whanganui.
- Today Ngāruahine will receive an apology from the Crown for illegally incarcerating iwi members in the South Island during the 1880s.
- On 30-31 March Te Wānanga o Raukawa and the Māori Unit within the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (Te Wāhanga) will co-hosting a forum on rangatiratanga; entitled ‘Kei Tua o te Pae’. Details can be found here:
- This week legal action between a grouping of former board members of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Whāngaroa and the Ministry of Education has been withdrawn. (The legal challenge arose from the removal of the school board in 2013). By way of background, in June 2014 the Secretary of Education and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education, Peter Hughes, dissolved the Board, and replaced it with a commissioner. This action followed significant student / whanau exit from the school; concerns about an inappropriate relationship between a former principal (Louisa Mutu) and a student; and concerns that board elections were not held in accordance with Education Act (allegedly no formal advertisements, only school newsletter information and letters).
The former board members objected to the need for a commissioner, indicating that they had address the conduct of the former principal appropriately, and had advertised elections in a means suitable their community. They also objected to the commissioner appointed, Mr Larry Forbes. Accordingly they had originally been seeking a High Court injunction against the interventions. However in December 2014 Hōhepa Campbell took over the commissioner role and new board elections were facilitated this year. Election results are now pending. (Pānui 21/2014 refers.)
 By way of background, Members’ Bills are proposed changes to legislation lodged by individual members of parliament. Members are allowed to lodge one bill each of their own design (i.e. it is not required to be a ‘party policy’ bill). If the bill is drawn in the parliamentary ballot then it is placed on the Order Paper (i.e. parliamentary agenda), and will receive at least a first reading in parliament, and be voted on at that point.