23 Mar 2012

Auckland Council needs to work harder for Maori - audit

7:15 am on 23 March 2012

An audit has found Auckland Council's obligations to Maori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi need to be urgently addressed.

A report on the local body has been commissioned by the Independent Maori Statutory Board.

The audit says according to its current policies, the council is almost certain to compromise Maori legal rights.

Among its findings, the report says there are no policies in place for:

  • the identification and management of Wahi Tapu, or sacred sites;
  • the naming of sites using original Maori place names;
  • and the management of taonga.

The audit, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, has identified 10 areas where improvements need to be made.

These include giving urgent attention to the council's knowledge of obligations to Maori, and improving consultation and engagement.

The Local Government Act 2002 places some specific obligations on councils under the Treaty of Waitangi.

These include ensuring Maori are part of the decision-making process, and to acknowledge Maori culture and traditions with their ancestral whenua, water, flora and fauna, and other taonga.

Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay says he expected there would need to be improvements, due to what he calls a natural consequence of amalgamating eight councils.

Mr McKay says the audit paves the way for changes to be made by May next year.