I met a lovely man on the train while travelling home from meetings in Wellington the other night. His name is Glyn and he has spent a lifetime trout fishing the rivers of New Zealand. Glyn started up our conversation when I sat down next to him. He said he was happy to get home from his trip to Australia and see some sheep, instead of all those dairy cows. Dairy cows, he told me, are mucking up ‘his’ rivers for fishing. Glyn told me about the many many years he has spent fishing, and the change he said he has seen to those rivers over that time.
The current process has many failings, and it can be daunting to a layperson, like Glyn, or his grand kids, to stand up and talk to a hearing commissioner. But they can do it. And it takes only a small amount of their time to make themselves heard. What about some of the collaborative processes being touted as the next big thing?
Recent processes in CANTERBURY show that you have to be shoulder tapped to have your place at the table. Another example in the Hawke’s Bay shows that you can self identify, but you have to commit to twenty six half day meetings to be involved in a long term and technical process. Now in both these cases the access of every person to the council or court hearing is still open. But recent PROPOSALS to do away with this process are concerning. This means Glyn, or his grand kids have to make a huge commitment of time and energy, or not be heard. Surely there has got to be a better way?
Helen Marr is a Perception Planning director who likes having thoughtful conversations with people about the environment.