The Government’s radical plan to impose co-governance over all aspects of the New Zealand government came a step closer with the release of the Review into the Future for Local Government draft report. Read the report here.
Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s panel - which appears specifically chosen to respond in the ‘right’ way to the Review into the Future for Local Government terms of reference - was required to make recommendations to achieve the following:
- Effective partnerships between mana whenua, and central and local government
- A local government system that actively embodies the Treaty partnership, through the role and representation of iwi/Māori in local government and seeks to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and its principles through its functions and processes.
- The role and representation of iwi/Māori in the local government system should be across all aspects of the Review’s consideration of this matter.
- The Review should appropriately consider reports relevant to the future for local government, including, but not limited to:
- relevant reports and findings of the Waitangi Tribunal.
- the Productivity Commission’s report on local government funding and financing.
- the Justice Committee’s recommendations in its Inquiry into the 2016 Local Elections, the interim report for the 2019 Local Elections, and any subsequent Justice Committee reports on local elections, and
- the Climate Change Commission’s advice to Government.
As a result, the Panel’s report contains 29 recommendations, including the following far-reaching changes:
- Embedding of Tiriti-based partnership in local governance. There would be a “statutory requirement on councils to foster Māori capacity to participate in local government” and develop a “partnership framework that complements existing co-governance arrangements.” In the view of the Panel having Māori wards is not enough to achieve a “partnership.”
- Appointing unelected positions by ‘mana whenua’ - to be given equal status as elected members, including voting rights. Panel chairperson Jim Palmer said while Māori wards were valuable, mana whenua appointees were a recognition of the special place of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in New Zealand, which allowed for the greater involvement of iwi and hapū in local decision-making.
“We think it's a more nuanced conversation than just 'one person, one vote'," Palmer said.
- Te Ao Māori values to be reflected at all levels of the system. In some instances, this means Māori having a lead role in decision-making, or the design or delivery of local government functions or services.
- Requiring council staff to conform with ‘te Ao Māori values’ by law. “Councils need to increase their capability in, and understanding of, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and te ao Māori.”
Local council chief executives would be required to “develop and maintain the capacity and capability of council staff to grow understanding and knowledge of Te Tiriti, the whakapapa of local government, and te ao Māori values.”
- Removing the requirement for local referenda before changing the voting system. The Panel recommends adopting the Single Transferrable Vote system for all councils in place of the First Past the Post method.
- Lowering the eligible voting age in local body elections to 16 and introducing a four-year local electoral term (both recommendations also made by LGNZ).
For further commentary, see:
- STRAIGHT TALK - The Future of Local Government in NZ by Frank Newman
- ThePlatformNZ: Michael Laws discusses the Local Government Review with Peter Williams
N.B. 'Differentiated citizenship' is defined as “the granting of special group-based legal or constitutional rights to national minorities and ethnic groups”. (Mintz, Tossutti and Dunn 2013, 89)
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- The Panel is calling for submissions on their draft report - we have until 28 February 2023 to have a say. To find out more and make a submission, see https://submissions.futureforlocalgovernment.govt.nz/
- Share this information with your friends and family. There has been a dearth of coverage in the media and certainly no in-depth analysis.
- The Taxpayers Union are about to undertake a campaign against the recommendations made in the Local Government Review report. Please support this initiative if you can. Click HERE.