When Should councils Consult with Tangata Whenua

While the primary responsibility for consulting with tangata whenua should rest with an applicant, councils should also take a proactive role in facilitating consultation with tangata whenua under the RMA. This is due to the need for councils to develop long-term working relationship with tangata whenua for resource management purposes and to fulfill their role in providing good, robust advice to applicants on resource consent matters. It is important this consultation is done in accordance with any policies and/or protocols councils may have developed with tangata whenua within their region or district including any Mana Whakahono ā Rohe (iwi participation arrangement) that they have entered into.

Councils may wish to consult directly with tangata whenua when:

  • resource consent proposals are likely to affect the matters referred to in ss6(e), 6(f), 6(g) and 7(a) of the RMA

  • the council knows that tangata whenua have a special relationship with the area affected by the application

  • council is aware that tangata whenua may be concerned with the activity that is proposed (e.g. aquaculture) or the resource that may be impacted on (e.g. water allocation).

The council's role may range from contacting the tangata whenua concerned to verifying the record of consultation provided by the applicant. In the case of some significant proposals, councils may effectively take control of the consultation process: this may include arrangements for hui, attendance by applicants, commissioning cultural impact assessments, and seeking expert advice from tangata whenua groups. Where council takes a lead in consulting directly with tangata whenua, there is a need to ensure correct protocol. This often includes:

  • following tikanga Maori (e.g. mihi, karakia)

  • providing a koha (gift or contribution) to the marae, relying on guidance from the marae komiti

  • using te reo Maori if possible, and where appropriate

  • involving the Council's iwi liaison officer, if available.

Councils should not view consultation as a one-off process for application but aim to build working relationships with tangata whenua. This may involve putting in place policies, processes, and channels that facilitate:

  • consultation between consent applicants and tangata whenua, including fulfilling the Council's obligations to keep and maintain records for each iwi authority and hapu within its region or district

  • tangata whenua involvement in the consent process such as being provided with copies of applications or sitting on hearings committees.