The Government has suddenly placed consultations with iwi on how the Department of Conservation can give better effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, on-hold following National releasing the draft recommendations last week.
“Neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Conservation have addressed the recommendations that propose the transfer of Public Conservation Land to Māori ownership – 34 per cent of all New Zealand land – however, they have moved quickly to halt the hui that DOC was undertaking,” National’s spokesperson for Conservation Jacqui Dean says.
The DOC website has been updated to say ‘consultation is currently on hold until further notice’.
“I call on someone from the Government to front up and explain what is going on. If they intend to essentially privatise a third of all land in New Zealand, they must come out and say so. At the moment, the process is all looking pretty bizarre.
“A mass change of ownership and governance to Public Conservation Land would have big consequences for conservation in New Zealand. Privatising the land would not only impact the ability of New Zealanders to access it, but it would also lead to huge uncertainties around conservation programmes and the future of endangered species.
“Documents like He Puapua and the draft recommendations from DOC that were given to National, also show that a transfer of proprietary rights and ownership of natural resources is an objective too.
“This would allow new owners of the land to decide if they would continue to conserve the land and protect endangered species or choose to mine resources and develop on the land.
“There will be those who would like to see a transfer happen and those who will be opposed, the point is we must discuss these major changes to the land the Crown looks after for all New Zealanders.
“The National Party will continue to call for transparency and a national conversation about the changes being made to New Zealand in the name of radical interpretations of the Treaty.”
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