Tai Tokerau iwi, environmental organisations and individuals have just over a week left to ask the Northland Regional Council to put the subject of genetically modified organisms back on the region's most important policy agenda.
Northland's largest Maori group, Te Runanga-a-iwi o Ngapuhi, says genetically modified organisms (GMOS) are "an affront" to Maori culture and values, and wants precautionary provisions in the Regional Policy Statement.
Ngapuhi hosted an open hui about the RPS this month where there was a unanimous call for the GMO topic to be included.
"GMOs are an affront to tikanga Maori and whakapapa, a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and a threat to both the health and wellbeing of Maori, including the environment and conventional and organic agriculture," representative Percy Tipene said.
Iwi have joined GE Free Northland and other anti-GMO advocates in saying central Government's Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) offers insufficient liability and that ratepayers could be left to pay to clean up GMO-related problems.
"There must be consistency similar to heritage management that has many protective layers," Abe Witana, Te Rarawa's Environmental Manager, said. "Leaving one agency as the sole protector and gatekeeper will fail not only Maori but all New Zealanders."
Nearly three years in the making, the Regional Policy Statement (RPS) sets out how natural and physical resources should be managed.
NRC staff along with a seven-member committee of regional councillors and political representatives from Northland's three district councils have worked together on the proposed RPS's development.
The RPS has to identify management issues concerning resources such as land, water, soil, minerals, plants, animals and structures. It does not set the rules, but influences the district and regional plans that do specify how local resources must be managed.
Environmental groups, iwi and individuals have been highly critical that a precautionary stance to GMO has been omitted after more pre-proposal submissions were lodged about that subject than any other.
The two-month submission period on the 164-page proposed policy, plus more than 1200 pages of supporting documentation and maps, closes at 5pm on December 3.
The draft and supporting documents are available online via www.nrc.govt.nz/newRPS. Submissions can be made online via: www.nrc.govt.nz/newRPS or by filling in a form and posting or faxing it to the regional council, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.