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Government response to our freshwater degradation a good first step but we have a way to go

Government response to our freshwater degradation a great first step: New Zealand Maori Council

The New Zealand Maori Council has welcomed the Government’s announcement in respect of New Zealand’s water ways and has also said that “this is a good first step when it comes to both responding to the water claim and the recent Waitangi Tribunal report and recommendations around freshwater but also recognising that we must start now. The Minister, David Parker, gets that and act he has.”

Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council has said that “we must prioritize an immediate workplan to clean up our water ways and that requires some bold and brave decisions on behalf of the Government and all New Zealanders. Some changes will be made through the Resource Management Bill so that councils will be able to have Plans that reflect the new National Policy Statement on Freshwater in place by 2025. One of my greatest criticisms of the current Resource Management Act was the often disconnect between Central Government and Local Government. Under the proposed changes Central Government will provide greater direction and as a result Councils must develop plans in certain ways which means consultation with Maori, Iwi and Hapu – especially when it comes to identifying values and setting objectives.” Tukaki said

“We also welcome the interim controls that need to be put in place that will seek to limit or reduce degradation of our waterways and that includes protection of streams in urban environments, protection of wetlands and more.” Tukaki said

“Then there are the improvements around farming and additional environmental protection. As someone who spent a few years living on a Dairy Farm I can tell you that there is always a fine balance between running your farm and ensuring you are doing the right thing by the natural environment. No farmer wants to see their access to sustainable forms of water at risk so introducing further practice standards around agriculture is also another key part of the approach.” Tukaki said

“And of course Council knows that many of our people work in or own a business connected to agriculture and horticulture so more support in this package for our people, when it comes to new farm systems, the development of Maori owned farms and help with putting plans into place is also a great start.” Tukaki said

“The truth is we have a very long way to go when it comes to cleaning up our water ways, reform of the Resource Management Act and the interests of Maori both as stewards and owners of freshwater. But what we have here is a start – and it should be clear to all that each of us, Maori and non-Maori, have a role to play – if we do nothing, if we fail to act then our children and grandchildren will hate us for standing by as things got worse.” Said Tukaki

“Now, of course, I will be advocating that the Government responds to the Waitangi Tribunal claims around water because there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to a larger work plan for change and both Maori customary and proprietary rights – but start we have and continue we must.” Tukaki said

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