Politics | Business

Tama Potaka expects Māori interests to be given ‘elevation’ in fast-track laws

Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka is expecting Māori, iwi and conservation interests to receive “elevation” when projects are being fast-tracked.

Talking to Te Ao with Moana, Potaka felt confident there would be space for iwi to “lead projects that seek consent and also be involved in projects as co-investors or maybe co-designers”.

“[For them] to participate in projects that Iwi are not investing in or investing through but to have input or to have engagement through those processes.”

Cabinet ministers Chris Bishop, Simeon Brown and Shane Jones will be the three people in charge of the fast-track law but for some projects, Tama Potaka will be involved as the minister of conservation.

“I’ve been involved [with the bill] along with my office and various agencies “in shaping, in drafting, in engaging for appropriate wording for that bill,” he said.

The bill targets making projects receive approvals faster, while reducing costs of consenting.

RNZ reported $1.3 billion is being spent each year on consenting of projects and the time taken to get a consent has doubled within five years, according to the Infrastructure Commission.

“Bureaucratic molasses’

“I think what you find is, over the past few years a number of projects have really failed through RMA (Resource Management Act) processes or conversation processes or other things. There’s been a bit of bureaucratic molasses.”

Potaka cited the major Ruakura inland port and industrial hub that Tainui Group Holdings wanted to develop but weren’t given consent for by the city council back in 2018.

Residents had voiced their concerns about noise, pollution, and the values of properties in the area.

Tainui Group Holdings then became the fourth applicant in New Zealand history to cite national significance clauses of the RMA to speed up the progress on its development.

“Tainui Group Holdings had to come to Wellington for three years and [spend] three million dollars arguing for the Ruakura project to be put into the district plan.

“That’s a great example where essentially the vetocracy has taken over;, the bureaucratic molasses has made it harder for an iwi project to proceed.”

To watch the full interview, watch Te Ao with Moana on Whakaata Māori tonight at 8pm or on Māori+.