National | Memorial

Erebus memorial: Ministry acted 'unreasonably' over consultation, says Ombudsman

Photo / File

The location for the proposed Erebus memorial, which some Māori are opposed to seeing erected in Parnell Rose Gardens in Tāmaki Makaurau, should have been consulted more widely, the Chief Ombudsman says.

Peter Boshier says the Ministry for Culture and Heritage acted unreasonably by not consulting more widely before forming a preference for a location for the proposed National Erebus Memorial in Auckland.

Boshier released his final opinion today on a complaint from some Māori and community members about the process followed by the ministry and other issues around the proposed memorial.

"My view is that the ministry should have consulted the wider local community and all Tāmaki Makaurau iwi comprising the mana whenua before advising on a preference for any site in Auckland.

"To not do so is surprising given the Crown’s partnership obligations under Te Tiriti/Treaty of Waitangi and obligations at an international level to consult with indigenous peoples.

"This lack of consultation has denied wider community and Māori involvement in considering a range of possible locations for the national memorial. Some members of the local community and iwi still have a sense of grievance over this failure.

Site choice not wrong

"This might reasonably be seen as tainting the memorial if no further steps are taken to resolve this before construction begins."

The Chief Ombudsman has recommended that before a decision is made to begin any construction on the site the ministry undertakes reasonable steps to attempt to resolve the sense of grievance that the failure to consult more widely has created.

However, Boshier says that despite the lack of consultation, the ministry’s own preference for the site at Dove-Myer Robinson Park (Parnell Rose Gardens) could not be said to be wrong.

He also acknowledges that while there is opposition to the proposed site, there is also considerable support, including from certain mana whenua and some Erebus families.

One of the areas of complaint is over the potential impact of the memorial’s construction on the health of a significant Pōhutukawa tree - Te Hā.

Boshier says he does not consider the ministry acted unreasonably by relying on the advice of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as to the impact that construction would have on the mana and mauri of the tree given it is mana whenua of the site.

The Chief Ombudsman also expressed the opinion that the ministry did not deliberately mislead Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as to the level of support from Erebus family members for a memorial sited in the park.


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