Understanding the Objective.pdf

31 resource management act 1991 part 2 contains the

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31 Resource Management Act 1991 Part 2 contains the purpose of the Act that is “sustainable management of natural and physical resources”. Sustainable management is described in s 5(2) to mean “managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing for their health and safety while (a) sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and (b) safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and eco-systems; and (c) avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.” Sections 6 to 8 add to the list of values decision- makers are to be cognisant of. 32 At first sight, the Resource Management Act does not permit the objective assessment of effects. Whilst the Act expressly requires the court to conduct an objective assessment of effects in certain applications (for example s 314 enforcement orders) this is not the case with the initial fact-finding exercise to be conducted in respect of resource consent applications. Section 104 simply requires the court to have regards to “any actual and potential effects”. But it is important to appreciate that these words cannot be read in isolation. Rather they are
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December 2011 Understanding the Objective 583 weight in deciding whether to grant the applications and, as explained, there are good reasons for this. IV. T ANGATA W HENUA At the other end of the scale are psychological effects that may, from a secular perspective, be based on illogical thoughts but nevertheless as a society we have decided to accept as relevant to decision making. In the Totoimano, Tame has firm beliefs that the development will anger the taniwha, the kaitiaki, that protects his hapu and who resides in the land marked for development. Although Tame’s beliefs are based on Măori legends and lore, they are important to his very identity: his beliefs provide a guide as to how he lives his life and, he believes, only to the extent that people live by them do spiritual beliefs continue to have force. 33 Blatantly disrespecting those beliefs would belittle Tame, his culture, ancestors and spirituality and an unsurprising response would be anger, eventually replaced by sadness and feelings of worthlessness. To allow the development would be tantamount to the society he lives in disparaging Tame’s beliefs and he is anxious for the mana of his people and their mauri. Tame’s cultural identity and spiritual beliefs – what is important to him – have been shaped by his experiences in life, the orderings of the society he has grown in, social gatherings, teachings and rituals, and so we can see how this response is subjectively rational and will be a response normative to his people.
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