IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North)
: I move,
That the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill be now read a third time. This bill has received broad support in its progress through the House, and because of that broad support the Business Committee has seen fit to circumvent the Committee stage and go directly to the third reading. I thank the Business Committee for that decision, which assists in getting the bill through the House. The bill is, both on the face of it and in fact, fairly technical and non-controversial, but that is not to say it has been without some question and some controversy. I will address that issue in a moment.
Just to go through the basics of what this bill is about, I say, firstly, it provides for the transfer of the management and control of the land that comprises the Palmerston North Showgrounds from the Palmerston North Showgrounds Board of Control to the Palmerston North City Council. Secondly, it allows for the dissolution of the Palmerston North Showgrounds Board of Control. Thirdly, it repeals the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act 1974. This bill has basically come about because the organisers of the local A and P show no longer wish to use the Palmerston North Showgrounds. Indeed, for some time they have not been using the showgrounds for that purpose. The A and P show has shifted over to Feilding and is now hosted at Manfeild Park, and the organisers do a fantastic job of running it there. The Palmerston North Showgrounds are used for a whole host of other reasons. They are effectively being managed by the Palmerston North City Council, and this bill simply certifies that position and brings it into law.
There was one question mark over this bill, and it has been sitting over it right from the start. It was initially raised, and has been raised repeatedly, by the Māori Party, and is the question of Ngāti Kauwhata’s Treaty claim and their concern that by passing this legislation, the land comprising Palmerston North Showgrounds would become inaccessible and more difficult for them to make a claim on through the Treaty settlements process.
I know this question taxed the Local Government and Environment Committee. The committee took it very seriously, and looked very closely to see whether Ngāti Kauwhata’s concerns were valid and there was anything that could be done to relieve their concerns. I know from the former chair of the committee, Steve Chadwick, that the committee took it very seriously and looked for some solutions. I know that the current select committee in this term, chaired ably by Mr Auchinvole, who is sitting across the House from me this afternoon, also took the submission from Ngāti Kauwhata very seriously. But the committee came to the conclusion that this change does not essentially make any change to the status of the land, and therefore Ngāti Kauwhata’s claim is in no way damaged. It does not really change the situation for them at all. Although I note that the Māori Party continues to voice Ngāti Kauwhata’s concerns, I hope that it will see that the select committee’s decision is appropriate and that Ngāti
Kauwhata will be able to continue in their Treaty claim process and get what they are seeking out of that.
That is probably the most important point that needs to be addressed in relation to this bill. But it is worth noting something else that is going on relating to the Palmerston North Showgrounds. The showgrounds host all sorts of activities. Just this morning I was at a diabetes expo. People like the primary health organisations and non-governmental organisations that are involved in diabetes prevention were there, offering their services and advice to people. We have basketball and volleyball facilities there. A number of concerts are hosted there. The Robertson Holden International Speedway is hosted there, and that brings people from all across the North Island to Palmerston North on a regular basis. So the showgrounds serve an inordinate number of purposes, but probably the best-known use and the one that the Palmerston North and Manawatū communities engage with the most involves our local provincial rugby team, the Manawatu Turbos, which has its home ground at Arena Manawatu, the showgrounds. And there is—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: I’m afraid I’m from another district.
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: I have a colleague sitting next to me who says she is afraid she is from another district.
Hon Member: She’s got only one eye.
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: She does not have her eyepatch on today, but that is OK. There are provinces in the country other than Canterbury, I say to Ms Dalziel, and I will talk about what is happening in my province: the fight to keep the Manawatu Turbos in the top division.
Unfortunately, for reasons that are lost on us in Palmerston North, the New Zealand Rugby Union is looking at axing a number of teams, and it seems as though our team is on the chopping block. I think we have been putting up a pretty sound argument against that. I will go into that briefly, if I may, with the indulgence of the House. One of the main concerns of the New Zealand Rugby Union has been about the financial stability of a number of unions, and it is worth pointing out that the Manawatu Rugby Union is projected to be back in the black by the end of this year and forecasts healthy surpluses in the years to come. In fact, the Manawatu Rugby Union has never been bailed out by the New Zealand Rugby Union, and that is something that not all provinces can attest to. The Manawatu Rugby Union is proud of that, and the New Zealand Rugby Union should note that. The second point is that weakening the game in the provinces weakens the game of rugby right across the country. The provinces are the grassroots for our All Blacks. They are where young people get their grounding in the game. If we do damage to the provincial rugby competition, then we will do damage to rugby in our nation.
We get great numbers coming along to the rugby; usually around 10,000 people come along to watch our team. There is huge support for the Manawatu Turbos. It is common for around 10 percent of the local population to turn up for games. I do not think that even Christchurch can claim it has a higher percentage than that one. I think Wellington is quite good at getting people along to its games, but Auckland certainly could not claim to get anything like that percentage.
Hon Member: We’ve got other things to do.
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: Sorry, what was that? The member has other things to do? Well, that member lost a football team, because he could not get along to—
Hon Darren Hughes: To Wellington.
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: Yes, to Wellington. I will come back to that football team in a minute, actually.
The proposed new division one—the lower division—really does mean huge losses for the teams that will be dropped down, because we will see the sponsors walk away.
We will see our great players go. At least three Manawatu Turbos players have really shone this year, and they have caught the attention of the Hurricanes’ selectors. I know that others are potentially in the draft to go to other Super 14 teams, as well. We will lose those players.
Paul Quinn: What’s this got to do with the bill?
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: It has everything to do with the bill, because this happens at the Palmerston North Showgrounds, I say to Mr Quinn. It is of serious concern to our community that we will lose our local players.
Do members know what might just happen? The New Zealand Rugby Union needs to pay attention to this. Not so long ago, our national football team had a sensational win: they got themselves to the World Cup. I can see a lot of youngsters getting interested in football. We have a sensational football team in Palmerston North, as well: YoungHeart Manawatu. It is one of the powerhouses of the competition. I can see a lot of young people shifting away from rugby and paying more attention to football. Indeed, the Phoenix—that Wellington football team—is coming up to play its first home game outside of Wellington at the Palmerston North Showgrounds on 12 December. It will be playing against Sydney FC.
Hon Darren Hughes: Will the member be there?
IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: The member will be there. I think the message to the New Zealand Rugby Union is loud and clear. It needs to pay attention to the detriment and damage that it is doing to provincial rugby by making it clear that the union wants to axe the Manawatu Turbos from the competition. We have put a huge effort into getting our team into the right shape so that it can stay in there. Over $300,000 has been raised to get the team into that position. That is an important point, which I think needs to be made.
Coming back to the bill, I say in conclusion that I thank the parties who are supporting the bill. I thank the select committee and the chairs of the select committee for the work that they have done. I also thank the Palmerston North City Council and Ngāti Kauwhata for their submissions and for taking the time to submit to the select committee. It is a great pleasure to see this bill in its final stage in the House.
CHRIS AUCHINVOLE (National—West Coast - Tasman)
: My compliments to Iain Lees-Galloway on a remarkably long speech on a very, very short subject. It is interesting the way football keeps creeping into the bill.
Hon Member: Rugby!
CHRIS AUCHINVOLE: Rugby football, yes—one has to be particularly careful nowadays. I notice that National’s senior whip Mr Tremain spoke on rugby during the first reading, so there is something that brings it about.
It is with pleasure that I rise to speak in support of the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill. The bill was referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee and we returned it to the House with no amendments at all. However, I will say that in returning the bill with no amendments, it certainly does not mean that we did not give the matter our serious attention. It was not treated lightly at all; we were conscious of the local content of this sort of legislation, so it was quite the reverse. The bill does three things: firstly, it provides for the transfer of the management and control of the land that comprises the Palmerston North Showgrounds from the Palmerston North Showgrounds Board of Control to the Palmerston North City Council; secondly, it allows for the dissolution of the Palmerston North Showgrounds Board of Control; and, thirdly, it repeals the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act 1974.
There was only one particular issue the committee concentrated on, and that was the question raised in the first reading by Te Ururoa Flavell relating to Ngāti Kauwhata’s Treaty claims in the Palmerston North area. We checked through all the appropriate
sources of legal information and we found that essentially the land as it is at the moment would be inaccessible to a claim. With the change that is proposed in this bill that status will not change, so there was no issue there.
Looking back over the first and second readings, I note that the bill was introduced by the Hon Steve Maharey. As I mentioned, the senior whip for National has spoken on it, mentioning rugby as well, as has the member for Rangitīkei, the Hon Simon Power. The bill is currently in the control of Iain Lees-Galloway, the member for Palmerston North, who is apparently looking forward to seeing what Palmerston North City Council staff will say to him when he goes back there, because up until now they have been able to ask him how the bill is going. Well, to assist it going rapidly, I will call it a day at that.
STUART NASH (Labour)
: I rise to take a very short call on the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill. I stand in support of the bill for a number of reasons, but first and foremost because it is a common-sense bill introduced by my colleague and friend Iain Lees-Galloway, who has proven himself to be a very able and capable replacement for the Hon Steve Maharey. In fact, it is good to see that Mr Lees-Galloway is in the process of once again turning Palmerston North into a Labour Party fortress.
I will make one comment, however, on Mr Tremain’s general debate speech. He talked about the wonderful things that he had done for the provinces. Well, Mr Tremain and the House will be disgusted to know that in fact unemployment in Hawke’s Bay is at the highest rate of any region in this country. In 2 years’ time Mr Tremain and the National Government will be called to account for that.
I come back to the bill. Last time Mr Lees-Galloway spoke on this bill, in its second reading, he spoke about the Manawatū rugby team. He said that he was about to head across to my home town of Napier to watch the Manawatu Turbos play the Hawke’s Bay Magpies. This bill has gone very well for Mr Lees-Galloway. However, something that must have caused him some difficulty is the fact that a couple of months ago he had to walk down the main street of Palmerston North—and no doubt around the showgrounds—wearing a Hawke’s Bay Magpies rugby jersey as a result of losing a most challenging bet when the Hawke’s Bay Magpies thrashed the Manawatu Turbos. Mr Assistant Speaker Barker, as a former rugby player and a proud supporter of the Hawke’s Bay Magpies, will appreciate the discomfort of losing such a bet.
That aside, and coming back to the point at hand, this bill was first introduced into the House by the then member for Palmerston North, Steve Maharey, basically because the A and P show that had previously been held at the showgrounds had moved to Feilding. It is a pity that Mr Lees-Galloway is not the local member there, as he would be a much more appropriate MP than the current offering. There is no doubt about that. In Feilding, as those members who know the place as I do will know—my partner grew up there; lucky thing, she has now seen the light and calls Hawke’s Bay home—there is a very large and suitable area called Manfeild Park, where large shows can now be held.
Feilding has won the award for the most well-kept and prettiest town in New Zealand 13 times. The reason for that, of course, is that Napier has not entered the contest, because we in the Bay believe it is only fair to share these awards around. Most else that needs to be said on this bill has already been said a number of times. On that note, I commend this bill to the House.
NICKY WAGNER (National)
: I rise with pleasure to support the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill. It is right and proper that legislation should support the day-to-day reality that the Palmerston North City Council already owns the relevant land and most other assets, and that the council staff have effectively taken over the day-to-day management of the showgrounds for the last 2 years.
When the Local Government and Environment Committee received the bill, it seemed a very straightforward bill, a mere ratification of decisions made by the Palmerston North community. Simply put, the Manawatu and West Coast Agricultural and Pastoral Association had disposed of its property to the Palmerston North City Council, because it did not need it any longer for the show. There had already been a transfer of ownership back in 1974 through the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act. At that time the agricultural and pastoral association, unable to finance desired improvements and additions to the showground facilities, did a deal with the city council: the council could develop the land for recreation, as long as it could be used for a specific number of days a year by the agricultural and pastoral association.
Although we have evidence that the showgrounds property was first acquired on 1 June 1886 and was vested in the Manawatu and West Coast Agricultural and Pastoral Society Inc. by the Governor of the colony of New Zealand, William F Drummond Jervois, at Government House, Wellington, under the Public Reserves Act 1881 for the site of an agricultural and pastoral showground, that is not the end of the story. Ngāti Kauwhata challenged the legitimacy of the ownership, claiming it to be part of their lands and Treaty claims.
The select committee heard a submission from Ngāti Kauwhata and sought further details from the original Government purchase. We discovered that in 1864, when the original block was purchased from the Rangitāne people, there was a local dispute over the ownership. So the select committee sought further information, finally concluding that despite Ngāti Kauwhata’s claim—even if it was successful for the Waitangi Tribunal—the Waitangi Tribunal would have no jurisdiction to recommend the return of the showgrounds. Therefore, the select committee decided that this bill affects only the management and control of the land, and its enactment will not result in prejudice to any Treaty claimants. We, therefore, all support the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill.
RAHUI KATENE (Māori Party—Te Tai Tonga)
: Arena Manawatu, the venue at the heart of the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill, hosted a massive 2,064 events during the year, an increase of 132 on the previous year. Yet in reports to the Palmerston North City Council’s Finance and Performance Committee just 2 days ago, it was revealed that the organisation had an $85,480 deficit in the financial year to the end of June. In comparable figures, Arena Manawatu’s equity is now down from $99,600 to just $14,121. Apparently, the deficit is due to the bad weather as nine speedway nights were affected by the weather, with six cancelled outright and three transferred, incurring low attendances.
But there is another cost that drives us to oppose this legislation at this third and final reading of the bill, and that is the cultural cost, the community cost, of neglecting and rejecting the relationships with key mana whenua throughout Manawatū. A significant submission received during the course of the Local Government and Environment Committee’s deliberation was that of Ngāti Kauwhata. Ngāti Kauwhata pointed out the disappointing reality that some 3 years on from the passage of the Manfeild Park Act, the Crown is again enacting another Treaty breach against Ngāti Kauwhata by means of this bill. One would have thought that a very basic assumption of Treaty justice would be that we would not seek to create fresh breaches on top of pre-existing claims. We recall that the submission that Ngāti Kauwhata made on the Manfeild Park Bill included the request that representation for mana whenua be provided on the Manfeild Park Trust board. That did not happen. However, Ngāti Kauwhata continued with their quest for representation both at Manfeild Park and now, in this case, with the Palmerston North Showgrounds.
I put to the House the simple question I raised at the first reading of this bill: what would be so wrong with receiving the request from Ngāti Kauwhata, with listening to and considering their point of view? What would be so wrong in letting Ngāti Kauwhata be part of the governance structure? The reality is that there are many longstanding reasons for understanding that mana whenua are committed towards upholding their responsibilities as tangata whenua to protect the land and natural resources of their district. In the case of Ngāti Kauwhata, in order to be able to honour these duties and responsibilities, there must be a clear understanding of the history of the people. It is a history in which Ngāti Kauwhata has been marginalised from their lands and trapped in poor health to forever keep them dependent on the Crown as beneficiaries. We remember the well-established advice from my whanaunga and Ngāti Kauwhata member, Professor Mason Durie. Basically, the lack of access to tribal land must be woven into explanations for the chronic poor health status of Māori.
Ngāti Kauwhata contend that the land in question is part of the Te Ahu-tūranga Block taken from them by proclamation and is subject to two Waitangi Tribunal claims, Wai 784 and Wai 972. Ngāti Kauwhata did not sell interest in the Te Ahu-turanga Block. In their view, it was taken by stealth and under devious purchasing practices by the Crown and its agents. At the select committee, Ngāti Kauwhata members were quite clear and they asked that the bill be delayed until the status of the land in respect of ownership can be determined. There are other reasons, too. Various Treaty claims are ongoing, including a new claim Wai 1461, regarding the Rangitīkei-Manawatū Block. This is a conjoint claim between Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa, and all of Ngā Iwi o Te Reureu.
The Māori Party continues to oppose legislation that will allow the Palmerston North City Council to take control of Arena Manawatu. We understand that the council has effectively managed Arena Manawatu in the past 2 years and that this bill is merely a formality, but the adage that possession is nine-tenths of the law is not correct and possession of ownership does not make it right. The council, in its defence, has undertaken public consultation on the change and has received no submissions in opposition. However, it does seem as though there have not been any specific efforts to engage iwi. The council advised that iwi-specific consultation is more on environmental and cultural matters, rather than regarding strategic economic assets. The council’s submission to the select committee did not discuss any consultation that it may have had, or not had, with local iwi, including Ngāti Kauwhata.
However, one of the key assumptions made about the way this bill enacts with the heritage and research of Ngāti Kauwhata is that they believe they have the right to at least have the land in question considered as part of their claim. In the end, that is for the Waitangi Tribunal to investigate, consider, and determine, not the select committee or this Parliament. We cannot, in good faith, support this bill.
Dr CAM CALDER (National)
: It is a pleasure to rise and speak in support of the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill. It is a modest bill—small perhaps, but perfectly formed.
It has been known for me, on occasions when speaking in the House, to take the opportunity to lambaste the late, unlamented Labour administration for year after year of supervised neglect, perhaps suggesting that Labour members were legislative sybarites embracing a default position of lassitude, languor, and inaction. It is not my intention to do so today.
This bill, in fact, reflects cooperation across the House, with a sterling effort from the Hon Steve Maharey and an able picking-up of the ball by Iain Lees-Galloway. I acknowledge the hard work the latter has done to bring the bill to its final stage in the
House. I acknowledge also the inspired chairmanship of the Local Government and Environment Committee by my colleague Chris Auchinvole.
One of the other things I should say about the honourable member Mr Iain Lees-Galloway is that he is a very able member of the parliamentary rugby team. Unfortunately, he was unable to make the recent trip to Rarotonga, although I am sure he would have made an able contribution. But I am hopeful that in the years ahead he may perhaps arrange a rugby game on this particular ground, because, as we know, everything will remain the same; it is just a matter of transferring ownership. I commend the bill to the House.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Palmerston North Showgrounds Act Repeal Bill be now read a third time.
||New Zealand National 58; New Zealand Labour 43; Green Party 9; ACT New Zealand 5; Progressive 1; United Future 1.
||Māori Party 5.
|Bill read a third time.