Coun­cil pushes ahead with Maori ward

Waiheke Marketplace - - Out & About - JAMES PASLEY

Auck­land Coun­cil will seek a leg­isla­tive change to al­low it to make an elected Ma¯ori coun­cil­lor role com­pul­sory.

Auck­land coun­cil­lors on Thurs­day voted 10 to five in favour of a Ma¯ori ward, in prin­ci­ple.

But the com­plex lo­gis­tics of in­tro­duc­ing one means leg­is­la­tion would need to change in or­der for it to be in place in time for the next lo­cal body elec­tions in 2019.

Coun­cil­lors were also wor­ried that if they de­cided in favour, a pub­lic back­lash could cause a pe­ti­tion to be launched, which if it at­tracted about 51,000 Auck­land res­i­dents, then a $1 mil­lion ‘‘for or against’’ poll would have had to take place funded by Auck­land Coun­cil.

Auck­land Coun­cil would look into chang­ing leg­is­la­tion to in­crease coun­cil­lor num­bers be­fore es­tab­lish­ing ama¯ori ward.

If a Ma¯ori ward had been ap­proved it would have taken the place of one of 20 gov­ern­ing body mem­bers, not in­clud­ing the mayor.

Cur­rently the coun­cil’s gov­ern­ing body can­not change its rep­re­sen­ta­tion num­bers and is the only coun­cil in New Zealand with that re­stric­tion in its leg­is­la­tion.

If the coun­cil were to use one of the ex­ist­ing ward coun­cil­lor po­si­tions for a Ma¯ori ward, it would re­quire realign­ment of ward bound­aries which also has an im­pact on lo­cal boards. This would be a sig­nif­i­cant ex­er­cise and it makes more sense to seek a leg­isla­tive change to add a Ma¯ori ward, rather than change all of the ex­ist­ing ar­range­ments.

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.

Auck­land Coun­cil also had the op­tion to con­duct its own poll in con­junc­tion with the 2019 lo­cal body elec­tions, which could re­duce the cost to about $150,000.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2013 con­sen­sus 169,800 Auck­land res­i­dents were Ma¯ori out of a to­tal 1,493,200 res­i­dents, mak­ing up more than 11 per cent of Auck­land’s pop­u­la­tion.

Auck­land Coun­cil al­ready has the In­de­pen­dent Maori Statu­tory Board (IMSB) which was formed in 2010 to pro­mote Maori is­sues and pro­mote tan­gata whenua in Auck­land.

‘‘We need to avoid that griev­ance fes­ter­ing and get­ting worse’’ Mayor Phil Goff

Auck­land mayor Phil Goff says he agrees with hav­ing an elected Ma¯ori rep­re­sen­ta­tive, in prin­ci­ple. MATTHEW CATTIN/STUFF

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