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Verbal Presentation to the Environment Select Committee – 7 June 2024

From Tāngaro Tuia te Ora, Endangered Species Foundation (ESF) to Oppose Fast Track Bill

On the 7th of June 2024, Tāngaro Tuia te Ora, the Endangered Species Foundation (ESF), presented our case to the Environment Select Committee opposing the proposed Fast Track Bill. The presentation was a collaborative effort including key insights from Tawera Nikau, Natalie Jessup, and Adam Simperingham. Together we highlighted the potential adverse impacts of the bill on New Zealand’s environment and endangered species across the country, and emphasised the need for a careful, inclusive approach to development projects.

Tawera Nikau: Emphasising Partnerships with Tāngata Whenua and Positive Outcomes for Te Taiao

Tawera Nikau, Co-Chair of the ESF, discussed the importance of genuine partnerships with mana whenua in development projects. He illustrated this through his iwi's partnership with SleepyHead developments in Waikato. Tawera highlighted how collaboration with mana whenua ensured that development projects not only respected the cultural heritage of the indigenous communities but also resulted in positive outcomes for te taiao (the environment).

True partnership means more than consultation it means collaboration and co-design right from the beginning. The SleepyHead is a testament to how development can proceed while upholding the principles of kaitiakitanga (guardianship). The Fast Track Bill, as it stands, risks undermining these principles by prioritising speed over thorough, inclusive decision-making.

Natalie Jessup: Case Study on Mangawhai/Pakiri Sand Mining

Natalie Jessup, the General Manager of ESF, provided a detailed case study on the Mangawhai/Pakiri situation. Natalie presented evidence about how information gathered from the communities and iwi, contradicted the evidence submitted by McCallum Bros, the company wanting to further mine in this area. The Environment Court ultimately declined McCallum Bros' application, in April 2024, citing the substantial discrepancies and the potential environmental harm.

The Mangawhai/Pakiri case is a clear example of why rigorous, independent review processes are crucial. The Fast Track Bill, by cutting corners, will likely lead to more situations where community voices are overshadowed by corporate interests. This would be a step backwards for environmental justice and protection.

Adam Simperingham: Legal Implications of the Fast Track Bill

Adam Simperingham, ESF's lawyer, delved into the legal ramifications of the Fast Track Bill. He expressed concerns about the bill’s potential to sidestep critical environmental protections and public participation requirements.

The bill proposes a streamlined process that could undermine existing environmental laws. Legal precedents underscore the necessity of robust public involvement and environmental assessments in development decisions. The Fast Track Bill poses a significant risk of weakening legal safeguards, leading to unchecked environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity.

We need an approach to development that does not sacrifice environmental integrity for the sake of expediency. The ESF team urged the Select Committee to reconsider the Fast Track Bill and to instead champion policies that ensure sustainable development through comprehensive environmental assessments and genuine partnerships with all stakeholders.

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