Council ‘sidesteps’ M¯aori ward
Auckland Council ’’sidestepped’’ an opportunity to introduce a compulsory Ma¯ ori councillor role, a local iwi says.
On Thursday, 10 Auckland councillors voted in favour to establish a Maori ward, in principle, while five voted against it.
Six did not vote because they were not at the meeting.
Due to complex logistical challenges, introducing a Ma¯ ori ward immediately was not possible without changes to current legislation first, councillors said.
Nga¯ ti Wha¯ tua O¯ ra¯ kei spokesman Ngarimu Blair said the councillors’ decision showed a lack of effectiveness around current Ma¯ ori representation.
‘‘It was a sidestep by the council. It’s time that all of the mechanisms which engage iwi and Ma¯ ori communities are reviewed, otherwise the chance of getting Ma¯ ori wards and seats established will keep getting put off,’’ Blair said.
Nga¯ ti Wha¯ tua Ora¯¯ kei led thousand of Aucklanders up Queen St in 2009, demanding at least two Ma¯ ori wards be created under new legislation and local government acts, he said.
However, the Independent Maori Statutory Board (IMSB) was established instead in 2010, aiming to promote Ma¯ ori issues throughout Auckland.
As the IMSB only had advisatory power, it’s legitimacy was being brought into question, he said.
‘‘One would have to ask what is the point of having them there, particularly if they don’t have a vote at the highest level and aren’t viewed as legitimate councillors by their peers.
‘‘Just as the IMSB reviews every part of council for effectiveness, perhaps they should be reviewed too,’’ he said.
Representation of Ma¯ ori in local government was no better than it was in 2010. Introducing Ma¯ ori seats and wards, with full voting rights, would be a step in the right direction, he said.
Mayor Phil Goff said he agreed with having an elected Ma¯ ori representative in principle, but feared the division a referendum could cause Auckland.
‘‘We need to avoid that grievance festering and getting worse,’’ Goff said.
To take effect at the 2019 elections a resolution would need to be made by November 23.
According to the 2013 consensus 169,800 of Aucklands residents were Ma¯ ori out of a total 1,493,200 residents.
Ngarimu Blair says councilors’ sidestepped a decision on Ma¯ ori wards.