The Taniwha Tax is dead!
Today with our sister group the Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance, we are celebrating a comprehensive victory in our “Taniwha Tax” campaign, with the Independent Hearings Panel recommending that Cultural Impact Assessment requirements, and the scheduled “sites of value” be deleted from the Unitary Plan.
In April last year, both groups joined Democracy Action and the Auckland Property Investors Association in launching a briefing paper on the draft plan’s Mana Whenua Cultural Impact Assessment provisions.
The Independent Hearings Panel report found (our emphasis):
"Accordingly [sites and places of value to Mana Whenua] have been withdrawn from the notified Plan. The remaining sites are those on publicly-owned land.
The Panel has recommended the deletion of those sites of value identified on publicly-owned land. This means that all of the sites of value are to be removed from the Unitary Plan. The reasons for removing those sites of value on publicly-owned land are the same as those set out above. That is, those sites have not been appropriately identified and evaluated to determine if they are indeed a site of value."
Our campaign exposed that many of the 3,600 sites deemed of cultural value didn’t even exist and the Council didn’t bother to check. Despite that the up to 18,000 affected landowners would be expected to obtain expensive reports from Mana Whenua groups before improving their properties.
The report continues:
References to cultural impact assessments as a specific method in the regional policy statement have been deleted as being unnecessary. It is the Panel's view that 'environment' is defined in the Resource Management Act 1991 to include people and communities and the cultural conditions which affect people and communities. It follows that in preparing an assessment of effects on the environment for form part of an application for resource consent, an applicant must address any potential effects of a proposed activity on Mana Whenua, including their relationship with their ancestral lands, water, sites wāhi tapu, and other taonga as well as kaitiakitanga and the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, wherever those matters may be relevant.
The Panel confirmed everything that we suspected:
- That no robust process of identification and verification of the sites of value existed
- The sites were never evaluated against any criteria
- The rules relating to sites of value were unreasonable
- The rules had immediate effect
- That the rules covered much larger areas than was approved
The Panel also confirmed that some iwi groups were concerned aout the robustness of and justification for including all of the sites of value.
This is a win for democracy, for protecting Auckland’s genuine cultural heritage, and for science-based planning.
We welcome the Panel’s recommendations and look forward to the Council's adoption of them.
After the launch of The Taniwha Tax: Briefing paper on Auckland Council's new Mana Whenua rules, we were inundated with emails from our members and supporters, aghast at the silent imposition of this regulatory tax upon Auckland property owners.
Many expressed concern that Central Government appeared to be sitting on its hands regarding this issue and wanted to have their opposition to this new tax noted.
We've launched an online petition for member and the concerned public to send a message to the Government.
Yesterday we launched a briefing paper on the Taniwha Tax - a little known regulatory tax affecting the property rights of 18,000 Aucklanders.
It is a shocking cultural and spiritual tax provision that has been enacted by Auckland Council.
And it attempts to set a dangerous precedent for other councils throughout the country.
Will you stand with us against Auckland Council's stealth tax?
Auckland Council should repeal its 'Cultural Impact Assessment' requirements and abolish the Taniwha tax.
Although some types of resource consent activities (such as discharging into water or air) may trigger 'cultural impact assessments' regardless of where they are in Auckland, the main impact is likely to be initially felt by property owners within 200m of more than 3,600 sites of value to Mana Whenua.
Auckland Council has a mapping program that allows you to search for your property.
Here's our guide to use it:
1. Go to http://acmaps.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz (if a pop-up box appears - 'click to continue')
2. Search for your address in the search bar.
3. On the left hand side (in the 'layers' tab)
3.1 Untick "Zones"
3.2 Untick "NonStatutoryInformaiton"
3.3 Next to the tick for "Overlays" press the "+" button (a sub menu should appear)
3.4 Ensure that only "Sites and Places of Significance to Mana Whenua" and "Sites and Places of Value to Mana Whenua" are ticked.
The purple triangles are sites of significance to Mana Whenua while the purple shaded areas are sites of value.Note that even if your property does not have a purple triangle, if it is within 250m it is affected.
The Taxpayers’ Union, with support from the Auckland Property Investors’ Association, Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance and Democracy Action today launched a briefing paper on Auckland Council’s new Mana Whenua Cultural Impact Assessment provisions. The paper, entitled The Taniwha Tax: Briefing paper on Auckland Council’s new Mana Whenua rules.
We believe that every Auckland homeowner or potential homeowner needs to know how the new provisions affect them.
Most affected property owners will not become aware of the provisions until they suddenly find there is a site on or near their land, or they are told they may need to get a Cultural Impact Assessment (CIA) when applying for resource consent. Worse, the Council isn’t even sure that some of the 3,600 sites deemed ‘of value’ even exist. It didn’t bother to check.
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, Watercare.
If 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. We have deliberately repeated what would otherwise go undiscovered in the files of lawyers, planners and Council insiders. Our work is to shine some democratic light onto what has happened."
UPDATE: To check if your property is one of the estimated 18,000 affected by these provisions, please click here for our guide.