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Maori Ward(s) "On The Table" At Auckland Council Today

The Auckland Council will today be considering a proposal to establish a Maori Ward based on the existing Maori roll.

All manner of rationale are used to justify such a move, but what interests me that in making the decision whether to proceed with making its decision, the Council's Independent Maori Statutory Board, which is appointed, not elected, and chaired by none other than our own (Ngati Maru) David Taipari, has provided the following recommendations:

    • "That the council establishes one or more Maori wards for the purpose of electing members of the cCouncil.  
    • If a valid petition was received, that the council conduct a referendum on its own initiative in conjunction with the upcoming election in 2019
    • The Independent Māori Statutory Board in Auckland was created by an act of Parliament; the Board supports haviing both a Maori ward and an Independent Maori Statutory Board, not one or the other." (my underline)

The Board’s additional comments are:

“The Board considers that Māori wards are an investment into the future partnership and leadership of regions and is a tangible demonstration of how local government shows respect and regard for the Treaty of Waitangi and how they can give effect to this. That identifying the cost of $1m for a referendum as a risk is a poor way to consider this opportunity for a Māori ward/s.

It perpetuates the misunderstanding that the general public have about Māori wards which is that it is a race-based approach to becoming an elected member to councils and therefore ratepayers funds should not be used for referendums of this type.

It also perpetuates the ignorance that the general public have about the challenges and difficulties Māori face being elected onto councils due largely to the low turnout of Māori voters for local government elections.”

It should be noted that such an arrangement is absent from the principal recommendation of staff as part of the review of representation  arrangements that they are required to undertake during 2018.

This is of direct relevance to this District where sooner or later the content of the Hauraki Settlement will finally be revealed, together with iwi representation arrangements on or off our Council, and it appears likely that similar arrangements will sought here to provide a 'double whammy' along similar lines. 

There has been a great deal of scepticism expressed at just what the appointed Statutory Board actually does, other that provide 'interferance' on resource consents through 'cultural' approvals based on designated, or alleged archeological sites.

My understanding is that this activity has been somewhat constrained of late under threat of Government intervention to clear development blockages, but it has nevertheless provided an extremely lucrative source of income for selected kaumatua  who may be otherwise unemployed, and it has not prevented the build up of a quite substantial bureaucracy to service the Board. 

Just what other input the Board has provided to Council activities is rather harder to establish, but David T. has apparently been quite active in the background, together with lawyer for all seasons, and reasons - Paul Majurey.

The pattern of 'on and off' representation as demonstrated by these recommendations to the full Auckland Council may well represent what will be sought here, and it will certainly raise questions concerning the democracy of co-governance in this form. You can be sure that the Board's ambition to maintain both forms of representation will not pass unnoticed in Auckland - the paper has just been released for today's meeting.

Expect to hear a great deal more about it as time goes on.  It may well be a step too far for our putative 'anointer-in-chief' - Win Peters, whose Party has indicated its determination to remove Maori seats in Parliament - a position that National "could go along with," but which Labour/Greens adamantly oppose - "Not on the table for negotiation," says Jacinda!


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