2021 Review of Significance and Engagement Policy

Submissions closed on April 05, 2021, 05:00 PM

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Whanganui District Council has conducted a review of its Significance and Engagement Policy and you are invited to have your say on the proposed changes.

It is proposing to require consultation with Ngā Tāngata Tiaki on matters involving the river, prioritise the modes of communication preferred by tangata whenua when engaging with them, update the list of strategic assets, include more direct and accurate reference to tangata whenua throughout, as well as make general structural and typographical updates.

Review of Significance and Engagement Policy

The Significance and Engagement Policy is required by the Local Government Act 2002. It is a policy that sets out the ways in which the council decides what matters are significant, and what ways and in what circumstances communities in the district can expect to be consulted with. It also is required to contain a list of strategic assets that the council considers significant to providing services and achieving its strategic goals.

It is required to be reviewed every three years, and the council has completed its most recent review. The council is proposing to introduce two new clauses to the policy, one requiring consultation with Ngā Tāngata Tiaki on any matters relating to the Whanganui River or the catchment that impacts it, as well as requiring the council to prioritise the methods of communication preferred by tangata whenua when consulting with them. There is also an addition to require consultation on any significant changes to heritage assets.

The list of strategic assets has been updated to reflect the building of the dog pound, the new management structure of the Whanganui port, and to include the Whanganui Commercial Pilot Academy.

The council has also added several sections providing more detail and context around iwi and hapū internal processes and preferences to inform the way consultation and relationships are undertaken on an ongoing basis.

There are also general updates to structure, phrasing, definitions, and typographical improvements.

Options

A - policy context and iwi consultation rules

Option 1

Update policy context and iwi consultation rules (Recommended) 

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Awareness of the ways iwi and hapū are structured and the best ways to communicate with them will improve the council’s ability to consult and advise in a genuine and effective way.

  • None.

Option 2

Retain existing policy context and Iwi consultation rules (Status quo)

Advantages.

Disadvantages

  • None.
  • The current context and rules around consultation with tangata whenua are not sufficiently specific or accurate.

B - heritage assets

Option 1

Update the significance criteria to include having a significant impact on a heritage asset (Recommended)

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Decisions that will have a significant impact on a heritage asset will automatically qualify as significant decisions and will require the Special Consultative Procedure.

  • None.

Option 2

Retain existing heritage asset protections (Status quo)

Advantages.

Disadvantages

  • Decisions with a significant impact on heritage assets can be made with less procedural requirements.
  • Decisions with a significant impact on heritage assets can currently be made without use of the Special Consultative Procedure unless they meet another requirement for significance.

C - strategic assets

Option 1

Update list of strategic assets (Recommended)

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • The list of strategic assets will be compliant with the Local Government Act.

  • The updated list will enable accurate management of and consultation around our strategic assets. 

  • None.

Option 2

Retain existing list of strategic assets (Status quo)

Advantages.

Disadvantages

  • None.
  • The list of strategic assets being outdated can lead to issues in correctly managing those strategic assets, as well as putting the council at risk under the Local Government Act 2002.

  • Assets not listed as strategic assets can be subject to decisions without needing the Special Consultative Procedure.

D - structure and definitions

Option 1

Update structure and definitions (Recommended)

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • The Significance and Engagement Policy will be kept up-to-date and easy to understand.

  • Removing ambiguity within definitions will make rules easier to understand and apply and will reduce the capacity for dispute.

     

  • Prescriptive definitions can cause issues if they are insufficiently described, so care needs to be taken to ensure that words are defined correctly.

Option 2

Retain existing structure and definitions (Status quo)

Advantages.

Disadvantages

  • The existing definitions have been functional in serving the policy so far.
  • Gaps in definitions have the potential to lead to disputes and confusion in how the policy applies.