Far North District Council has decided to pause development on designating ecologically significant areas in front of a hkoi of over 1000 iwi and hap members opposing proposed limitations on their whenua arriving at its offices.
The council (FNDC) has been under huge pressure to stop the reclassification of 42 percent of land (282,696ha) in Te Tai Tokerau as Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) owing to the high number of native plants and animals in those areas.
James Shaw, Associate Minister for the Environment (Biodiversity), and Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government, have urged the FNDC to wait until the National Policy Statement (NPS) on Biodiversity is implemented.
After meeting with Minister Shaw today, Far North District Mayor John Carter concurred.
He stated that they would “pause, reset, and consult” with the Far North people, but that no final decisions would be made until the NPS was finalised, which was due in July.
When asked if he backed the NPS, he stated that he wanted to “sit down and talk properly with their communities”
“There’s a lot of people out there who support the principle, we need to make sure we implement it correctly.”
Te Poari o Ngāti Wai chief executive Hūhana Lyndon welcomed the decision, but said they would continue to march.
“Our people want to show the strong resistance and opposition to SNA implementation in our region.”
“We caution [FNDC] that you need to work alongside us in describing, defining and then implementing what potential protections we might need on our whenua in terms of SNAs, we welcome the opportunity to co-design what that would look like for our region but right now our people want to hīkoi, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The hīkoi began at dawn today at Te Herenga Wairua, with 300 people marching to Kaitaia.
Lyndon said 1000 people were expected to arrive at FNDC’s Kaikohe office tomorrow about midday.