Maori seat sup­port­ers re­treat to sa­cred moun­tain

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

Morn­ing vig­ils have been tak­ing place on the sum­mit of Mt Eden this week by sup­port­ers of Maori seats on the pro­posed Auck­land Coun­cil.

The vigil co­in­cided with the start of se­lect com­mit­tee hear­ings on the su­percity plans, with Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the new coun­cil among the is­sues be­ing raised.

Start­ing with a morn­ing bless­ing, up to 35 ear­lyris­ers have been con­verg­ing on the sum­mit, where they share sto­ries and learn about Auck­land’s his­tory.

Or­gan­iser He­len Te Hira says the idea to gather on one of Auck­land’s most iconic spots is a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive way to keep at­ten­tion on the is­sue that Maori want to be prop­erly rep­re­sented.

“In times of stress our an­ces­tors would al­ways re­treat to their sa­cred moun­tains. This is one of those sig­nif­i­cant times where peo­ple are looking for a way to ex­press how they’re feel­ing.”

Ms Te Hira says the se­lect com­mit­tee ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion from pan-tribal or­gan­i­sa­tion Ihi, to at­tend this morn­ing’s fi­nal vigil.

Fu­ture gath­er­ings are also ten­ta­tively planned.

Ihi was formed in April in re­sponse to the gov­ern­ment’s re­fusal to take up the royal com­mis­sion’s re­gional gov­er­nance rec­om­men­da­tion to have three Maori seats on the new coun­cil.

Its rep­re­sen­ta­tives work through­out the Auck­land re­gion con­duct­ing fo­rums and work­shops for those who want to learn about New Zealand’s demo­cratic pro­cesses and the Treaty of Wai­tangi.

The Queen St hikoi, which was ini­ti­ated by Ngati Whatua el­ders, was or­gan­ised by Ihi.

“We want to do some­thing prac­ti­cal to keep high­light­ing the is­sues around the push for Maori seats.

“Right now we are re­ally fo­cus­ing on ed­u­cat­ing fam­i­lies about how to write sub­mis­sions,” she says.

This week the se­lect com­mit­tee has been based in Par­nell but will travel to the North Shore, Waitakere, Manukau and Wai­heke Is­land over the next fort­night.

It will lis­ten to more than 780 oral sub­mis­sions and re­port back to Par­lia­ment with its find­ings in Septem­ber.

A sub-com­mit­tee of the Auck­land Gov­er­nance Leg­is­la­tion is also tak­ing hear­ings to marae across the city as well as Great Bar­rier Is­land.

As­so­ciate Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment John Carter says he is pleased with the qual­ity of the sub­mis­sions.

“This has been an ex­cit­ing process with good pos­i­tive pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion through the pub­lic meet­ings and sub­mis­sions process.

“Auck­lan­ders are see­ing his­tory be­ing made, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in it.”

He says al­though a Royal Com­mis­sion is an­other way to pro­vide pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in pol­icy de­vel­op­ment, only ir­re­spon­si­ble elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives would im­ple­ment its rec­om­men­da­tions without fur­ther thought.

“The se­lect com­mit­tee sys­tem al­lows cit­i­zens to talk di­rectly to some of those who will take the fi­nal de­ci­sions on im­por­tant mat­ters.”

More than 2400 sub­mis­sions were re­ceived for the sec­ond read­ing of the bill ded­i­cated to Auck­land’s gov­er­nance with an­other chance to have in­put on a third read­ing ei­ther later this year or early next year.

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