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Those are excellent questions which require a response from our legal expert at Dixon and Co Lawyers Alisha Castle:
1. Do you need a resource consent from the Council for building papakainga?
It depends on the local government planning provisions that apply to the area you want to develop papakainga on. Resource consent can vary depending on what Council you are applying to. For example, Gisborne, Whangarei and Hastings all have slightly different controls for papakainga.
Taking Hastings District Council as an example, a resource consent is required if your proposal does not comply with one or more of the ‘permitted activity’ rules in the Hastings District Plan. Under the Hastings District Plan papakainga is a controlled activity.
However, Whangarei District Council has been in the process of removing the need for resource consents for papakainga where they meet the threshold set out under a recent papakainga plan change provision. Although, resource consents may still be required where building falls outside that plan change provision.
2. Does the Council only consider legally related whānau?
I have assumed that when you refer to ‘legally related whānau’ you are referring to whangai. In other words, a person adopted in accordance with Māori custom (rather than by legal adoption).
Before an application is made to the Council for a papakainga development, whānau and owners of Māori land will have been through the Māori Land Court which has its own process to ensure succession orders, occupation orders, trust formation and the like are determined in order to establish entitlements to the whenua. In that forum, issues such as whāngai entitlements may also be addressed.
If there are issues surrounding ‘legally related whanau’ or whāngai, the Māori Land Court will make a determination on whether the person has interests in the Māori land. Whatever that ruling is, the Council will follow that decision. In essence, the council has no jurisdiction to consider matters relating to whether whānau are legally related.
3. Are papakainga only for Maori?
Papakainga are developments on Māori land therefore you need to have a connection to that land in order to meet the requirements for building papakainga. As set out above, ownership and rights to Māori land is determined by the Māori Land Court. The primary objective of Te Ture Whēnua Māori Act is to promote the retention of land for Māori whānau and hapū and papakainga are an integral way of facilitating the connections for whānau back to their whenua tupuna.
4. Can there be multiple papakainga buildings on Māori land or can there only be one papakainga building?
Papakainga are usually going to cater for more than one dwelling in a designated papakainga area. The exact requirements will be subject to each District Council’s planning provisions which will identify how big a dwelling per square meter would be allowed in each designated papakainga area. In some cases though this will mean that one large papakainga building could be built or several, provided the footprint of the dwelling fits within the permitted square meter allowance.