No place for race in freshwater policies

While it is an exciting time in central government politics, I need to direct your attention to another local government matter.

Auckland Council is developing its freshwater management plans and has put some documents out for consultation with the public. As I am sure you can imagine, we have identified some issues...

  • For a start, the Council states: “Freshwater is precious and limited, a taonga of huge significance, and of particular importance to Māori.”
  • They also mention that in addition to the public consultation, “There is a separate and ongoing programme of engagement with mana whenua in Auckland.” 


The documents reveal a persistent presumption that Māori have a special relationship with water that is not shared by the rest of the community and that they have “stronger ambitions to improve our waterways”.

Water is the essence of ALL life, so everyone has an interest in healthy water. All Aucklanders should be equal stakeholders in how freshwater is managed in their city.

In the far-reaching consultation document, Auckland Council presents the idea that Māori are entitled to be involved to a much greater degree in the decision-making, monitoring and management, plus allocation, of Auckland’s freshwater.

They’re now asking for Aucklanders‘ input to this new policy, yet engagement with mana whenua has already been undertaken through a separate process.

Hobson’s Pledge doesn’t claim to be an expert on the scientific or regional issues covered by the Council’s proposals, but we do recognise the potential for frightening consequences from giving exclusive, unaccountable rights over water to one sector of the community.

We say people must not be divided by ancestral lines. Policies and rules must apply to us all equally.

What can you do?


All questions are optional. You will first be asked to choose which sections you wish to give feedback on. Select as many as you like.

We suggest that if you want to submit on the racial aspects of the plan you should select ‘A. Long-term vision’ and ‘C. Waterbodies where special management is required’.

You can also provide feedback in the box labelled G. Other Feedback.


Please tell Auckland Council what you think by 4 December 2023.