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I was slightly surprised to read an article in the Herald today in which Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson says Kiwis have “nothing to be scared of” when it comes to Māori co-governance of our assets.
But if you’ve been following the story of Te Urewera National Park, you’ll know that's not strictly true.
Te Urewera National Park – as in Lake Waikaremoana, one of NZ's great walks – has been closed since August and only reopened again 9 days ago.
Why? Because it’s no longer run by DOC only.
For the last eight years, it’s also been run by the local iwi tuhoe under a co-governance model.
The problem is that most of the huts and many of the swing bridges were in dire need of repair but the iwi wouldn’t allow the repairs.
Money wasn’t the problem. DOC was prepared to pay for all it.
But the iwi didn’t think it needed repairing. Apparently, they had “different standards” on the nature of the hazards and told DOC if they didn’t like the situation, they could simply remove the structures.
It’s finally been sorted now, which is why the walk has opened again but we missed the summer.
That right there is a problem with Māori co-governance.
Because, if that was place was run exclusively by DOC, like it was beforehand, and DOC shut it down for summer because it just couldn't be bothered maintaining the assets we’ve all put our taxpayer money into, we would haul the minister over the coals in front of the media and put pressure on them until they pulled up their socks and did their job.
Because they are accountable to us.
But not the iwi.
You can bad mouth the iwi all you like, but they’re not going to lose their jobs because Kiwis are grumpy, we can’t go on a great walk and our assets are being run down. They are not accountable to us.
Now tell me if that’s a model you like, because I don’t. But that’s what’s coming our way.
This is what Labour is planning for the entire Health System and your water aswell.
The health system will be run by Health NZ – a body accountable to you – and a Māori Health authority.
Water will be run by a water authority accountable to you and iwi representatives.
So next time Willie or any of the proponents of Māori co-governance tell you it works and there’s nothing to be afraid of, just remember how well it’s working at Lake Waikaremoana.