Go-ahead to transfer functions to iwi authority a New Zealand first

Waikato Regional Council has reached a landmark decision to approve the transfer of specified water quality monitoring functions to the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board – a first of its kind in Aotearoa New Zealand.

However, the council will still retain overall responsibility for the monitoring functions.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of transferring summer bathing beach, regional rivers, rainfall and groundwater quality monitoring within the Lake Taupō catchment to the trust board.

In making their decision, councillors imposed a number of conditions which require the trust board to take positive action to work with landowners and to establish protocols to address access to private land. The transfer agreement must also include an annual review (by council) for the first two years and biennially thereafter.

The provision to transfer functions to an iwi authority has been an option since the Resource Management Act (RMA) was enacted almost three decades ago. Section 33 of the RMA enables a local authority to transfer any one or more of its functions, powers or duties under the act to another public authority, except for the power of transfer itself.

The transfer of functions from council to the trust board will take place in September 2020 – making it the first iwi authority in Aotearoa New Zealand to have functions transferred to them by a council.