Understanding the Legal Requirements to Consult Tangata Whenua

The RMA contains specific requirements to undertake consultation with tangata whenua through iwi authorities as part of the plan development process: 

  • Clause 3(1)(d) of Schedule 1 of the RMA requires that councils consult with tangata whenua through iwi authorities before notifying any plan. 
  • Clause 3B sets out a procedure for consulting with iwi authorities whose details are contained within the Council's record of iwi authorities under s35A. A council will be treated as having consulted with iwi authorities if the council: 
    • considers ways in which it may foster the development of their capacity to respond to an invitation to consult; and 
    • establishes and maintains processes to provide opportunities for those iwi authorities to consult it; and 
    • consults with those iwi authorities; and 
    • enables those iwi authorities to identify resource management issues of concern to them; and 
    • indicates how those issues have been or are to be addressed. 
  • Clause 2(2)(b) requires regional councils to consult with iwi authorities when preparing a regional coastal plan. 
  • There are further pre-notification requirements for consultation for iwi authorities under clause 4A . Before notifying a proposed policy statement or plan, a local authority must provide a copy of it to the iwi authorities it has consulted under clause 3(1)(d) and have particular regard to any advice received. There are no statutory timeframes applied, buta local authority must allow adequate time and opportunity for the iwi authorities to consider the draft and provide advice on it.  

Undertaking consultation with tangata whenua is important for councils to be able to fulfil particular obligations to tangata whenua under the RMA. These obligations are: 

  • All councils are required to take into account any iwi management plans in undertaking any plan development process, and recognise and provide for any relevant matters is a customary marine title planning document (sections 61(2A), 66(2A) and 74(2A)). 
  • A regional policy statement must state the resource management issues of significance to iwi authorities of the region (section 62(1)(b)). 
  • Councils must recognise and provide for: 
    • the relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wahi tapu, and other taonga (section 6(e)) 
    • the protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development (section 6(f)) 
    • the protection of protected customary rights (section 6(g)). 
  • Councils must have particular regard to kaitiakitanga (section 7(a)). 
  • Councils must take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (section 8).  

In addition, new requirements for consultation with iwi authorities are beginning to emerge through Treaty of Waitangi settlements and under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. 

See the Facilitating consultation with tangata whenua guidance note for more information on the obligations for consultation with tangata whenua.