A little-known aspect of the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan has come into effect, leaving many residents confused and frustrated.
Under the plan, thousands of sites across Auckland have been deemed of historical significance to Maori and some may now require a ‘cultural impact assessment' before any alterations are made to properties.
Cultural impact assessments, or CIAs, are performed by local iwi with a preliminary cost which could be as high as $1500. Up to 19 different iwi groups are eligible to assess properties, possibly charging subsequent inspection fees.
But the Auckland Council says it knows of one iwi which isn't charging anything for minor developments.
It says the CIA requirement is similar to an applicant having to supply specialist reports, such as from an engineer or landscape expert. The council takes into account the CIA and all other information required before making any decision on the resource consent application.
"The sites don't all require a CIA and in most cases we've seen they aren't required," a council spokesperson says. "The requirement is to ask iwi if a CIA is needed when developing on or near one of these sites as part of a resource consent application. They will then advise whether it is or isn't."
The new consent process affects large areas of the Hibiscus Coast and parts of Rodney. Historical sites are in Orewa, Red Beach, Arkles Bay, Manly and Stillwater, for instance.
"There is a huge amount of alarm in the community," Lorraine Gatiss of Manly says. "We're all wondering how this is going to play out.
"It feels like a violation of sorts. We've had no consultation, no heads up, yet it's our pockets that are affected."
Unlike other elements of the unitary plan, the iwi consent process has been active since day one, causing confusion for residents and local board members alike.
Hibiscus and Bays Local Board member Janet Fitzgerald finds the process "ridiculous", having "come completely out of left field".
"On one hand they try to make Auckland a livable city, trying to get people to come here and yet we're putting in these stupid ideas that are going to raise the cost of living even more."
Submissions to the plan closed on February 28 but changes are beginning to be made, Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt says.
"There has been some streamlining effects in the process", namely the appointment of facilitators between the council and iwi in the communication process, she says. Although submissions to the council are closed, Mrs Parfitt believes the matter to "be one of the first issues that are considered by independent commissioners".
Marcus Logan is an AUT journalism student
- Rodney Times
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