NZ Maori Council Calls on Parliament to Establish a National Infrastructure Commission – the time is right …
The New Zealand Maori Council has backed the establishment of New Zealand Infrastructure Commission calling the idea long overdue and who’s day has come. Councils Executive Director Matthew Tukaki has said that Infrastructure is the corner stone of a future Maori and New Zealand economy (Tukaki is also Chair of the New Zealand Maori Councils National Taskforce for Access to Industry and the Economy”.
“It is estimated that the Māori economy is worth more than $42 billion and it is our estimation that the value of the asset base can grow providing the infrastructure is in place to support that growth. From better roads and bridges, to improved rail links and port facilities we have an opportunity to grow jobs, bring down rates of high long-term unemployment and develop up new small business supply chains. In looking to the present, we also need to be mindful of the future. This includes infrastructure to support a growing interconnected world through which Māori can participate online. To enable this to happen we need certainty of telecommunications an internet connectivity. In addition is the potential to grow future forward industry through having the supportive infrastructure in place for sectors such as science, research and even things such as aeronautics and space.” Tukaki said
“The overlap of services can be compounded by a plethora of tiers of Government that are not always pulling in the same direction that can often confuse Māori such as a Local Councils responsibility over that of a regional council versus the Ministry for the Environment or the Transport Agency. The lack of effective co-ordination can often see many communities miss out on essential infrastructure and that which can provide for a better social and economic future. In any event the notion of mana whenua, where local Māori have a say in local matters, is going to be essential in ensuring demand and need is met with effective planning and provision.” Tukaki said
Tukaki has outlined a work program to Parliament’s powerful Finance and Expenditure Committee call on a very specific role for Maori:
To enable reform: we need to do more to cut the red tape that stops infrastructure development and re-development and; that includes making it easier to co-design projects and use Māori land without the loss of culture integrity. Reform also means looking at the structures of Local, Regional and Central Government and posing the question “are the tiers of process too cumbersome to offer a return on infrastructure development either socially or economically?
High speed future: we need to more to enable Māori to benefit from and utilize the development of infrastructure that supports greater participation in the telecommunications, life sciences and online world. This includes an infrastructure plan to increase connectivity in the regions, reduce mobile coverage blackspots and increase the use of existing infrastructure (Marae and Papakainga) as technology hubs for whanau and rangatahi.
Transport for a first world nation: New Zealand’s roads need greater investment and nowhere more so than the regions and provinces. This includes upgraded bridges, infrastructure with climate change mitigation in mind, improved roading and better access through laneways. In addition is the need to develop working plans to better improve water capture and storage, sewerage and wastewater.
Infrastructure fund: we need to ensure that what we build can be built. One of the only ways that this can be achieved is if we look at an agreed work program of build projects, cost them and timeline them for implementation. To ensure that the nation can afford the projects the New Zealand Māori Council is calling for the development of a standalone national infrastructure fund where the Government, once projects have been approved, will invest the capital (including forward estimates) into the fund thereby building the foundation for a sovereign fund best able to continue the investment into infrastructure for future years.
Co-design of effective public – Iwi partnerships: a model of both co-investment and do-development of infrastructure projects led and developed in partnership with local Iwi and Hapu – this would ensure participation and inclusion whereby demand is met with supply.
Suggested structure & role of Māori
The Council advocates for a specific Māori Commissioner who would be able to work directly with Iwi and Hapu in a way that both engages them, advocates of involvement, is engaged to support the development of infrastructure projects and programs, advocate for financing and so on. It is our experience that Māori need a specific voice at the table and it also stands to reason that a specific Māori voice is recognition that a significant amount of land is owned or governed by Maori, Iwi and Hapu. This ownership extends not only through land but water and spectrum.
Council welcomes the opportunity to appear before the Committee to further outline its reason for supporting the establishment of the Commission, further discuss the need for a specific Māori Commissioner and the need for a focused work program as outlined in this document.