Govt must be upfront about its plans for DOC land

The Prime Minister needs to be clear with New Zealanders about what her Government plans to do with ownership of conservation land, National Party Leader Judith Collins says.

National has received a copy of draft recommendations from a recent hui where the Department of Conservation (DOC) discussed how to better reflect the Treaty of Waitangi’s principles in it policies.

The draft document recommends the entire DOC estate is reformed, the Conservation Act replaced, and the functions and powers of the DOC estate are delegated, devolved, and transferred to tangata whenua.

“This is not just National Parks, but the entire DOC estate. That is 85 per cent of the West Coast, for example,” Ms Collins says.

“I received this document from someone who attended the hui and was deeply concerned about recommendations from the He Puapua report being implemented without the Government being upfront about it.”

The document also recommends changing the legal status of waters, resources, and indigenous species. This would require significant reform of laws regarding freshwater and marine spaces.

“This is another example of the way the Treaty and its principles are being interpreted in ways that we haven’t yet discussed as a nation,” Ms Collins says.

“These interpretations and the way they are being enacted will have significant impacts on the lives of all New Zealanders, and on our democracy.”

In a speech at the National Party’s Lower North Island Regional Conference today, Ms Collins reiterated the need for an open and honest discussion about recommendations in the He Puapua report and the way in which the Labour Government is interpreting the Treaty.

“Labour has adopted a view that the Treaty guarantees partnership in governance. This is now being reflected in reviews of our health system, resource management and the conservation estate.

“My message is, let’s first of all agree what the Treaty means as a nation. I don’t want to see our democracy reformed piecemeal.

“The Government needs to govern for all New Zealanders. I firmly believe that we are better together.”

You can read the draft recommendations from DOC’s Options Development Group here.