This letter is to update you on the latest on our work to support the Government’s response to the severe weather events in January and February 2023.
I want to acknowledge the resilience of whānau, hapū and iwi who moved quickly to manaaki communities affected by cyclones and flooding earlier this year, and the critical support Post Settlement Governance Entities and marae continue to provide, particularly to isolated communities. I acknowledge also that this comes at a time when you and your community are already being asked to engage with the Ministry and other government agencies on resource management reform and other related kaupapa.
Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Act
The Government has now passed a second piece of legislation, the Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Act, which adds flexibility to address specific issues recovering communities are experiencing. You can read the Act here.
The Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Act allows certain laws to be suspended, modified or expanded, including some laws administered by the Ministry for the Environment. These include the Resource Management Act 1991, the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, and the Climate Change Response Act 2002. The mechanism that will be used to do this is called an Order in Council.
The Act provides for local Māori and local community groups to participate in the development of Orders in Council, but statutory timeframes for engagement are tight. The Act requires a minimum of three days to provide feedback on any proposal for an Order in Council.
In addition, the Act establishes a panel to review draft Orders in Council and provide advice to Ministers. The panel will be appointed by the Minister for Cyclone Recovery and will comprise up to 12 members with appropriate knowledge, skills and experience. This may include members with local perspectives of Māori, Māori communities, and their interests and values, including matauranga Māori and tikanga Māori. Before appointing panel members, the Minister may seek nominations from Māori entities that the Minister considers have relevant knowledge of the affected areas.
Orders in Council
The Ministry is currently undertaking initial scoping of Orders in Council. We intend to begin developing the detail of the Orders in our areas of responsibility shortly. We will also have a role in developing or supporting other agencies to develop Orders in Council to:
- fast track the repair and restoration of significant infrastructure like roads, powerlines and pipes, and streamline planning requirements, while ensuring infrastructure is ‘built back better’ where possible.
- provide temporary housing by removing barriers that might impede their establishment.
- assist waste management by minimising barriers to the efficient clean up and disposal of waste, debris and silt, and selecting sites to deposit contaminated waste and silt.
- change existing planning requirements, which may include:
- relaxing resource consent conditions for users who are unable to comply with existing conditions.
- temporarily waiving the requirements to exclude livestock from waterways, to recognise the damage the severe weather has caused to fencing.
- enabling district or regional plans to be quickly amended to allow for recovery activities.
Each Order in Council will be limited to specific matters and locations to ensure an appropriate and proportionate response to the matters required to be addressed as part of the recovery efforts. Given Orders in Council could affect a number of pieces of legislation it is likely that multiple government agencies will be involved in their development. The Ministry anticipates that it will lead the development of Orders in Council relating to waste and planning requirements and be in a supporting or co-leading role for the others.
Key concerns we have heard so far that we need to address include:
- the importance of meaningful engagement with iwi, hapū and Māori when thinking about how to manage waste, housing or significant infrastructure, and the need for appropriate mechanisms to protect sensitive information.
- ensuring emergency provisions are implemented in a way that upholds Treaty settlements.
- impacts on Te Taiao of relaxing planning requirements on freshwater, riparian planting and stock exclusion from waterways.
- carefully balancing the need to enable recovery in affected communities, while not pre-empting larger conversations, for example on managed retreat and resource management reform
- the need to address the social impacts of temporary housing on whānau.
To support this kaupapa, we are holding a number of online hui in May 2023 which you are welcome to attend to share your whakaaro, and to hear our initial thinking. The purpose of these online hui is to introduce you to our mahi and to offer you the opportunity to kōrero with us on policy choices that address the needs of your communities and align with the values and aspirations of your whānau, hapū and iwi.
We expect to discuss a range of kaupapa at these online hui, including Orders in Council, proposed national direction to deal with natural hazards, and climate adaptation.
We are aware how stretched you are on the recovery, so we are holding these online hui at different times so you can find a time that best suits you. You can view the available online hui dates here.
Ngā mihi nui,