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New money to improve Māori access to the outdoors
As part of Budget 2020, the Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa has been allocated $250,000 per annum to improve how it works with iwi, hapū and all Māori on issues relating to public access to the outdoors.
One of New Zealand’s smallest crown entities, the Commission has engaged with hapū and iwi on public access issues over the ten years of its existence.
This has included issues specific to Māori, such as:
- Supporting local whānau to gain legal access through privately-owned land to wāhi tapu and mahinga kai,
- access to Māori land,
- encouraging public compliance with rāhui, and
- supporting mana whenua over issues relating to public access through land returned in treaty settlements.
The Commission also helps to ensure Māori can have a say on wider public access issues.
The funding announced in Budget 2020 will allow the Commission to better meet those needs into the future. It will also help it to operate in a true partnership with Māori, in recognition of its responsibilities under te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Last year’s review of the Walking Access Act 2008 noted the important cultural connection that Māori can achieve through access to whenua.
It also called on the Commission to adopt a partnership approach with Māori across all our work. The review called for this partnership to be part of all the Commission’s strategies and practices.
With this funding announcement, the next stage is to plan how the Commission will rise to this challenge.