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Maori Party to back RMA reform as United Future, Act offer alternative

Thursday 23rd March 2017

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The Māori Party has headed off a rival bid by government support partners United Future and the Act Party, reaching a deal to support an overhaul of the Resource Management Act which includes a framework to protect iwi rights. 

Co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox today said the Maori Party will support the remaining stages of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, which has been touted as the biggest reform to the legislation since it was implemented 25 years ago. The Māori Party had been holding out for greater protection of community input on issues such as a regional ban on genetically engineered crops, having already secured beefed-up iwi rights. 

"The Māori Party recognises the importance to New Zealand of increasing housing supply and the essential role that the RMA plays in supporting development in the areas where it is needed most i.e. Auckland and Christchurch," they said in a statement. "However, this should not be at the detriment to this country’s natural and cultural taonga."

The Māori Party finalised the deal just hours after United Future's Peter Dunne and Act's David Seymour said they'd written to Prime Minister Bill English with an alternative proposal to win their support that would ditch the new iwi consultation proposals and ministerial powers to override local plans while extending property rights protections. 

"We know that the Māori Party is using its negotiating position to demand concessions that National would never usually give,” Seymour said. "Today ACT and United Future are offering the Prime Minister another option in order to pass the bill without undermining the rights of property owners and local communities."

Dunne said existing resource management law already provided strong protections for iwi and that "local communities must retain the right to create local plans, without the threat of ministerial intervention".

The second tranche of reforms to the RMA planning legislation has faced four extensions since being sent to select committee in December 2015, reporting back earlier this month with opposition parties scathing of the process in their minority reports. 

The legislation is currently in the committee stage in Parliament and sits ninth on today's order paper. Parliament is in recess next week.

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