A ground-breaking Mana Whakahono partnership agreement between Taupō District Council and Ngāti Tūrangitukua was approved at the Council’s April 2022 meeting.
Ngāti Tūrangitukua is the Ngāti Tūwharetoa hapū that holds mana whenua over Tūrangi township and its surrounds and includes its post-settlement entity, the Ngāti Turangitukua Charitable Trust.
The Mana Whakahono covers Resource Management Act [RMA], Local Government Act and Reserve Act matters and was agreed between the parties after extensive discussion and negotiation. It will be implemented by a co-governance committee equally made up of Ngāti Tūrangitukua and council appointees.
Ngāti Tūrangitukua is the mana whenua of the Tūrangitukua rohe (area) which includes the Tūrangi township and its surrounds.
Ngāti Tūrangitukua has a special relationship with the whenua and people located within its rohe which is reflected through their role as ahi kā, kaitiaki and landowners of most reserves located within its rohe. As a result of their generosity, a vast majority of these recreational reserves remain accessible for the benefit of the wider community and visitors alike. Some however are waahi tapu (sacred areas). It is important to Council that the aspirations and values of Ngāti Tūrangitukua as kaitiaki of these special areas and all reserves within the Tūrangitukua rohe are acknowledged and upheld.
This is a comprehensive relationship-based agreement between the Taupō District Council and Ngāti Tūrangitukua.
The agreement includes a Mana Whakahono ā Rohe—which is a relatively recent Iwi Participation tool under the Resource Management Act (RMA), designed to assist tangata whenua and local authorities to discuss, agree and record how they will work together, including how tangata whenua will be involved in resource management decisions.
The agreement also covers matters wider than the RMA, which reflects the aspirations of both parties to enhance their working partnership on a range of functions within the Ngāti Tūrangitukua rohe and Ngāti Tūrangitukua’s aspiration to make decisions over particular matters within its rohe.
Among these include input into the development of Council policies, co-design of community infrastructure, reserve management and input into environmental, cultural, and economic development and “three waters” issues and initiatives. A co-governance committee made up of equal representation from Council and Ngāti Tūrangitukua will be established to oversee the implementation of the agreement.
Historically, the Crown acquired Ngāti Tūrangitukua land for the purposes of the Tūrangi township. This was not agreed to by Ngāti Tūrangitukua and was held to be a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Waitangi Tribunal. It is important that context is recognised for the purpose of this agreement.
Ngāti Tūrangitukua and the Council have been in discussions for several years to find ways to improve their relationship and build on their shared aspiration of working together in partnership on a range of matters for the benefit of both Ngāti Tūrangitukua as mana whenua and the wider community. Alongside general matters, the discussions include how the partners will work together on particular matters and how the Council will look to enable Ngāti Tūrangitukua to actively be involved in decision-making, either jointly with Council on Council-related functions, or alone as mana whenua and landowners within its rohe.
The Ngāti Tūrangitukua Deed of Settlement also included provision for the Council and Ngāti Tūrangitukua to have a stronger partnership-based relationship. The agreement will reflect the Council’s desire to give effect to the Treaty of Waitangi principles of partnership (the duty to act in good faith in the nature of a partnership), participation (of Māori in council processes) and protection (the duty to actively protect the rights and interests of Māori) in our services, activities and planning work.
For many years, locals and visitors alike have enjoyed recreational use of Ngāti Tūrangitukua reserves. In recent times Council has been working very closely with Ngāti Tūrangitukua as project partners and landowners to develop a Turangi reserves management plan.
The parties are co-designing plans for a new purpose-built shared community club room facility at Turangitukua Park and a destination playground at Te Kapua Park where stories significant to Ngāti Tūrangitukua and the surrounding area can be shared. Construction of these long-awaited projects is due to commence in 2022.
Council is also looking forward to working closely with Ngāti Tūrangitukua and other community stakeholders to co-design a new indoor recreational facility which Council recently allocated funding of $15.9 million for as part of its 2021/31 Long-term plan.
The agreement will include establishment of a co-governance committee. This will be a eight-strong committee of Council made up of an equal number of members from Ngāti Tūrangitukua and the Council.
As noted above, the Committee will be responsible for the implementation of the Mana Whakahono which includes being afforded certain delegations from Council to look after a range of matters. The committee will be at the heart of a collaborative framework for co-design and joint decision-making opportunities between Council and Ngāti Tūrangitukua.
How does the focus of the Mana Whakahono committee compare to that of the Turangi-Tongariro Community Board?
Council is proposing to transfer all functions that currently sit with the Community Board (which will be disbanded in October) with respect to the Turangitukua rohe to the new co-governance committee.
To ensure the wider Tongariro area is also fairly represented, a representative group is also proposed to be established by council and delegated the powers and functions currently held by the Tūrangi Tongariro Community Board for that area. This is similar to existing arrangements within the district that ensure effective representation for the Kinloch, Mangakino-Pouakani and Taupō East Rural areas.