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Maori input wanted on island's future

JAMES IRELAND
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014
Puketutu Island

ISLAND STYLE: Puketutu Island in the Manukau Harbour is being ‘‘rehabilitated’’ with treated biosolids and will ultimately become a regional park.

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More Maori input is needed into what goes on with Puketutu Island, the Independent Maori Statutory Board says.

The Mangere island is undergoing a 35-year rehabilitation project during which 4.4 million tonnes of biosolids from the Watercare wastewater treatment plant will be deposited into the area excavated for materials to build Auckland Airport.

Once the site has been completely filled it will be turned into a regional park.

The restoration is being run by a 12-person governance trust, with four appointed from the Auckland Council, four from Watercare and four from iwi entities Waikato Tainui, Te Kawerau a Maki and Makaurau Marae.

The island's 999-year lease will be held by the iwi and the park will be run by the council.

The trustees were appointed at the council's council-controlled organisation governance and monitoring committee on July 2.

Maori Statutory Board member Glenn Wilcox asked for one of the council's four appointments to be given to the Tamaki Collective as a way to include more Maori in the project.

"If the Tamaki Collective are not in there, then we can't say we have been inclusive and fulfilled our role under the Local Government Act.

"What I'm asking council to do is vacate one of the seats for someone nominated by the Tamaki Collective as one of council's votes. We can always get more technocrats but we cannot always include more iwi."

The council's principal adviser Rose Leonard strongly disagreed with the idea.

She says if the collective wants to be a part of the island's governing body it should negotiate to have the fourth spot given to the three Maori entities.

"Now we're at this point where we actually can't korero so it really does feel like we're trying to smooth over or deal with a problem that was created back prior to amalgamation. Our opinion is it won't help, it will make things worse."

Leonard says the council will be a long-term partner in the project and that relationship needs to be protected.

"Once Watercare exits after the biosolids project is complete it will be the council and iwi left in the development of the island. For those reasons we do not support the amendment."

The amendment failed when it was put to the council vote.

Under the Local Government Act a trust in which a council has the right to appoint 50 per cent or more of the trustees is a council-controlled organisation. In this case an exemption has been made because the trust is a "small organisation" and does not seek profit.

Turning the trust into a CCO would "add cost with little or no benefit", Leonard's report says. Councillors were unanimous in passing the exemption.

When Puketutu Island becomes a regional park funding will come from the council's parks fund and will not be channelled through the trust.

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- Manukau Courier

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