The recent Appeals Court decision which ruled against the Tupuna Maunga Authority (TMA) and Auckland Council has Mayoral candidate Craig Lord wanting a full review of the processes and overall functions of the body.
This particular court case was based around the lack of public consultation for the felling of trees at Owairaka. The process was run by the TMA, in conjunction with Auckland Council and the Judges ruled that the entire procedure was unlawful.
Tupuna Maunga Authority’s ‘consultation’ package was designed to conceal critical information while the Council saw fit to exclude the public from the Resource Consent process as set up in the RMA.
“There is a multi-faceted problem that Aucklanders face here, and it’s bigger than just the case of Owairaka,” says Mr Lord. “We have an entity creating a deceptive presentation for the public that contained misleading information and cunning wordplay, along with imagery clearly designed to fool people. Alongside that we have a Council department not doing their job properly. This is somewhat disturbing and now you have to question how many times this has been done before, and across which projects.”
Whilst this case was directly focused on Owairaka/Mt Albert, the ruling should have the Council looking at the tree operations across all of the other Auckland maunga. Instead, Council’s legal team have advised staff not to withdraw the consents from the other volcanic cones.
Whilst Mr Lord is continually puzzled by the decisions of TMA and Council to be removing trees from Auckland Maunga during a Council declared Climate Emergency, he is also heavily concerned about the lack of ethics, responsibility and accountability being shown.
“There are six elected officials on the TMA board being Councillors and Local Board Members, with the remainder made up of co-governance members, and all of them are being paid by the ratepayer. They lied to the public, and then they used ratepayer funds to have the Council legal team defend their unscrupulous actions in court - right now alarm bells should be ringing and a lot of questions should be asked.”
“I believe the Mayor's office should be calling for an immediate and thorough review of the TMA, and that review should also include a full and wide investigation into any conflict of interest or business links between every board member and contractors. It’s a transparency that the ratepayer is entitled to.”
“I find it disturbing that public servants are creating their own small empires - such as the TMA - and that they are able to use their privileged positions to try and stifle public input for what seems to be their own personal agendas.”
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