Councils and community leaders must act now to protect water integrity and human rights

18 Mar 2018

 

 

Water is Life.  Without it, there can be no Life.

 

In August 2017 the standard of “Te Mana o te Wai” was elevated in New Zealand’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

 

This means that now, according to law, all councils and resource management decision-makers must actively protect the “integrated and holistic well-being of the water” by putting “the health and well-being of the water at the forefront” of all their freshwater management decisions.  In addition, councils are now required “to make or change plans to achieve the objective, noting the connection between fresh water and the broader environment; and the role of community values when setting freshwater objectives and limits.”

 

Councils must give greater urgency to implementing this standard: in our climate crisis era of unprecedented water insecurity, waiting on another 10 years’ staged implementation is unacceptable with aquifer resource consents pending.

 

In Te Hiku, the three days’ of Motutangi-Waiharara Water Users Group aquifer resource consent applications hearings will begin Monday 26 March, Te Ahu, Kaitaia.  As Te Mana o te Wai was primarily the result of iwi advocacy efforts, one would naturally expect iwi authorities to proactively and enthusiastically support the local community-based campaigns at the frontlines of Te Mana o te Wai protection concerning these consent applications. We can but hope that World Water Day on 22 March (which will launch the “International Decade of Water for Sustainable Development”) will yet motivate local iwi to give the campaigners the support they need to successfully defend Te Mana o te Wai and citizens’ internationally recognized human right to water above corporate business and industry privilege to exploit our taonga for unsustainable private profit. We also hope many citizens will show up 26-28 March at the hearings to make your concerns known.

 

And, to be clear, the campaign to protect our local water integrity and human right to water is not “anti” economic development. Rather, this campaign is pro “sustainable” economic development. It is disingenuous to frame these aspirations as mutually exclusive, and our elected officials and community leaders would do well to stop thinking so dichotomously and start thinking inclusively - as well as democratically.

 

 

 

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