Coun­cil ‘side­steps’ M¯aori ward

East and Bays Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ADAM JA­COB­SON

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.

ABI­GAIL DOUGHERTY/STUFF

Ngarimu Blair says coun­cilors’ sidestepped a de­ci­sion on Ma¯ ori wards.

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