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Published: 2011-07-29 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council will incorporate a Maori viewpoint into hearing and deciding the region’s most significant resource management policy framework.

The council yesterday decided a six-member hearing committee would be appointed to consider submissions on the proposed Regional Policy Statement (RPS) from early next year.

The panel will comprise three councillors, including the chairperson of the policy and strategy committee, an independent chair with specialist expertise in resource management law and an independent commissioner with expertise in tikanga Maori. In addition, the council would give effect to its co-governance arrangements under river Treaty of Waitangi settlement legislation by inviting the Waikato River Authority to nominate and fund a commissioner to the panel.

Chairman Peter Buckley said the council valued its relationships with iwi and had considered several options for balancing its statutory and democratic accountabilities, while effectively incorporating iwi values and issues into decision-making.

“The council is committed to working with our iwi partners to represent Waikato communities and ensure we protect our environment while enabling the region to be economically competitive,” he said.

“The RPS will be our most important piece of policy encompassing the council’s three key areas of focus – sustaining land and water values, facilitating regional development and meeting co-governance requirements – so we have to get the best people for the job.

“As well as ensuring appropriate representation, we will be appointing people who are qualified and experienced in the Resource Management Act.”

The hearing committee is expected to sit for 120 days at an estimated cost of $860,000.