Ministry acted unreasonably over consultation on Erebus Memorial site, says Chief Ombudsman
The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier says Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage acted unreasonably by not consulting more widely before forming a preference for a location for the proposed National Erebus Memorial in Auckland.
Mr Boshier has released his final opinion on a complaint from some Māori and community members about the process followed by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (the Ministry) and other issues around the proposed memorial at Dove-Myer Robinson Park Taurarua in Parnell
“My view is that the Ministry should have consulted the wider local community and all Tāmaki Makaurau iwi comprising the mana whenua before advising on a preference for any site in Auckland.
“To not do so is surprising given the Crown’s partnership obligations under Te Tiriti/Treaty of Waitangi and obligations at an international level to consult with indigenous peoples.
“This lack of consultation has denied wider community and Māori involvement in considering a range of possible locations for the national memorial. Some members of the local community and iwi still have a sense of grievance over this failure.
“This might reasonably be seen as tainting the memorial if no further steps are taken to resolve this before construction begins.”
Mr Boshier has recommended that before a decision is made to begin any construction on the site the Ministry undertakes reasonable steps to attempt to resolve the sense of grievance that the failure to consult more widely has created.
However, Mr Boshier says that despite the lack of consultation, the Ministry’s own preference for the site at Dove-Myer Robinson Park could not be said to be wrong.
Mr Boshier also acknowledges that while there is opposition to the proposed site, there is also considerable support, including from certain mana whenua and some Erebus families.
One of the areas of complaint is over the potential impact of the memorial’s construction on the health of a significant Pōhutukawa tree – Te Hā.
Mr Boshier says he does not consider the Ministry acted unreasonably by relying on the advice of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as to the impact that construction would have on the mana and mauri of the tree given it is mana whenua of the site.
On other points in the complaint, Mr Boshier considers:
- MCH acted unreasonably in failing to reply in October 2019 to correspondence about a resource consent for the memorial
- MCH did not act unreasonably in the design process it undertook for the memorial
- MCH did not deliberately mislead Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei or Waitematā Local Board members as to the level of support from Erebus family members for a memorial sited in the park.
Read Mr Boshier’s full opinion:
He will not be providing any further comment on his final opinion.