April 15, 2015

Launch of the Taniwha Tax report

Today the Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance was proud to stand beside a number of others as we launched a report produced by our sister organisation, the Taxpayers' Union. We joined representatives from the Auckland Property Investors' Association and Democracy Action who gathered to launch the paper entitled The Taniwha Tax: Briefing paper on Auckland Council’s new Mana Whenua rules.

Aucklanders deserve to know how these new rules affect them and, potentially, the values of their properties.

Most affected property are completely unaware of the provisions and what they entail until they learn about a site on or near their land, or are told about the need to obtain a Cultural Impact Assessment when applying for resource consent. To make things worse, the Council has not even verified that the 3,600 sites deemed 'of value' still exist. The Council have refused to check that the sites exist, but expect ratepayers to go looking for any of the number of Mana Whenua groups to see if they have a site of cultural significance in their backyard.

The Briefing Paper quotes extensive criticisms of the provisions made on behalf of some of New Zealand’s largest corporates, including Vodafone, Spark, Chorus, Transpower, Vector and Watercare.

Navigating through RMA red tape is already hard enough. Yet these provisions pose a further hurdle for property owners seeking development consent. The rules mean that resource consents may require negotiations with up to 19 Mana Whenua groups; resIf you thought that navigating RMA red tape was hard, these provisions could require you to negotiate with up to nineteen Mana Whenua groups in order to gain development consent, the rules mean that resource consents may be subject to expensive modifications, even if the reasons are entirely spiritual in nature.

The Council has previously tried to dampen public concerns, claiming that not many Cultural Impact Assessments have been required so far. They ignore the cost and delay of applicants having to go to iwi groups to ask whether a CIA is required.

Most of the messages contained in the Paper are not those of the Taxpayers’ Union. It deliberately repeated what would otherwise go undiscovered in the files of lawyers, planners and Council insiders. This work is to shine some democratic light onto what has happened.

The report is available to download here.