At the FMC AGM in June the conservation spokespeople of the Greens, Labour and National spoke to the crowd. There were differences in some areas, but it was good to see a general agreement that there needed to be more action to give appropriate protection to our Forgotten Lands. FMC has given the opportunity for parties to make a statement on our website regarding their policies, and have received the following responses. The responses as advised to the Parties have been recorded in the order they were received. FMC prides itself on being apolitical.
Stewardship lands such as South Westland’s rainforests which are part of a World Heritage site and the Denniston Plateau, recognised as a biodiversity hotspot, are just two examples of stewardship lands which deserve greater recognition and legal protection. The Green Party would implement the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recommendations and review the status of stewardship land, identify areas of significant conservation value and give these stronger and appropriate legal protection areas such as reserve, conservation park or national park status. Increases in DOC’s funding should be prioritised towards pest control and biodiversity protection.
Protecting our rivers is a priority for the Green Party. We will set bottom lines to ensure our rivers are safe for swimming, as well as set up a protected rivers network to permanently safeguard our most precious rivers similar to the permanent protection given to national parks. We’ve consistently opposed unsuitable developments on conservation land like the monorail and the Haast-Hollyford Road. The Green Party believes DOC should be more rigorous in implementing the distinction between recreation and tourism in the Conservation Act, when considering concession applications. Huts and facilities on public lands should be available to all.
Reclassification of Stewardship Lands:
MANA supports the call to properly protect and manage stewardship lands by including them in the Conservation Act or National Parks Act. MANA is opposed to mining any lands and strongly advocates for more robust laws and regulations of other commercial activities to maintain the integrity of the environment. We will also work to ensure that the Treaty of Waitangi obligations included in environmental legislation, including the Conservation Act, are understood and actioned.
Conservation pertaining to outdoor recreation:
MANA supports the call for increased funding to the Department of Conservation to properly manage and maintain DOC lands, including lands and facilities for recreational purposes. A key priority for MANA is to give hapū and iwi equal decision making powers to develop environmental policies and to exercise kaitiakitanga over their lands, coastal areas, and waterways, with the appropriate resources to do so, to enable such areas to be enjoyed respectfully by all.
Reclassification of Stewardship Lands
The Maori Party is concerned about the weak legal protection of land categorised as stewardship land. Land can be reclassified, swapped or sold for commercial or private use such as mining and other commercial uses. Iwi should be fully involved in the review and reclassification of stewardship lands and to have Treaty claims to conservation lands properly addressed. The Tongariro National Park and the Urewera National Park are two areas where iwi have been denied proper decision-making roles for generations.
Tangata whenua have a proven track record of protecting natural environments from commercial development, including native bush, wetlands and coastal areas; conservation and management of natural environments.
As Māori we have a kaitiaki or guardianship role of our natural resources based on the spiritual and cultural relationship we have always had with the environment. Māori therefore have a crucial role in the management of these resources including our rivers, mountains and national parks. It is our responsibility and right to protect, restore and enhance the environment. The Māori Party will redirect resources in the Department of Conservation to restore the role of kaitiaki for whānau, hapū and iwi and continue to support iwi to demonstrate their role as kaitiaki in their tribal regions.