Following preliminary engagement with iwi and urban Māori in 2022, Auckland Council will shortly be asking Aucklanders for their feedback on whether they support - or do not support - the introduction of a dedicated Māori seat/s on Council. Public consultation will run from 21 August until 24 September.
The proposal seeks to establish either one, two or three dedicated Māori seats. Aucklanders on the Māori parliamentary electoral roll would vote for representatives to fill these seats.
In addition to the proposed Māori wards, the council will be asking for views on:
- keeping the status quo, that is, dedicated Māori representation through the Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB);
- adopting what's called the “parliamentary model” which would create a ward or wards based on the size of the Māori electoral roll; and/or
- whether there should be an additional Māori seat that is filled by an individual appointed by local iwi.
Auckland Council is also asking for feedback on whether the dedicated Māori seats should replace the Independent Māori Statutory Board or be in addition.
What is the Independent Māori Statutory Board?
The Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB) is an independent body corporate of nine members (although only 6 are appointed at present). It is neither elected by nor accountable to the wider community, yet it has voting seats on most council committees.
The Board has specific responsibilities and powers under the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 to promote issues of significance to Māori to the Auckland Council, to assist the Council to make decisions, perform functions and exercise powers. It does this through Issues of Significance - promoting cultural, economic, environmental, and social issues of significance for mana whenua groups and mātāwaka of Auckland. It also ensures the council complies with the Treaty of Waitangi.
The IMSB has been in place for 13 years. It was introduced as an alternative to Māori wards. The Board has voting right on most council committees - but not on the Governing Body. In practice, the legislation has provided the IMSB with more power to affect decision-making than one or two Māori seats would have.
Diagram: The makeup of the current council committees, which shows that there is provision for IMSB seats on all committees, with voting rights on all but two. In addition, the IMSB are involved in the development of Annual and Long Term Plans.
Board membership is by way of a selection and appointment process. The Minister of Māori Development invites mana whenua to form a selection body. Seven members represent mana whenua, and two members represent mātāwaka.
The IMSB is one of the main drivers for Māori seats on the council. David Taipari, the chair of the IMSB, suggests that both Māori seats and the statutory board coexist. This is backed up by Whau Ward Councillor Kerrin Leoni, who is reported as saying both can and should exist.
But the Board is seeking to go even further - a resolution supporting a recommendation to have equal partnership and representation on Council was passed at their March meeting.
Neither the Board nor Leoni has acknowledged that a combination of the IMSB and Māori seats would overturn the rules of proportionality on any committees. This is already a vexed issue, as there is provision for the IMSB to have disproportionate influence on decision-making on these committees, (see diagram above).
The Māori population of Auckland is 11.5%.
N.B. During the discussions leading up to the consultation the IMSB argued vehemently their existence should even not be mentioned let alone discussed.
The IMSB is not the only avenue at Auckland Council that ensures Māori are involved in decision-making processes. There are also the following opportunities:
Ngā Mātārae (Māori Outcomes Directorate)
Ngā Mātārae is an in-house Māori department within Auckland Council, the head of which sits at the executive level of council. Its role is to support the council group (including council-controlled organisations) to deliver on Māori outcomes by:
- setting strategic direction;
- enhancing organisational capability, systems, processes, and performance;
- facilitating strategic relationships and Māori participation in decision-making.
The Tāmaki Makaurau Mana Whenua Forum
This forum partners with central government and Auckland Council on national and region-shaping matters it is deemed require a Māori collective voice. The forum's membership includes 19 Auckland council-recognised iwi/hapῡ. Auckland Council provides an annual grant of $50k (2018) to each of these 19 iwi/hapū organisations to provide capability to:
- respond to requests from the council,
- prepare a strategic plan showing the key priorities for their respective iwi/hapū/marae, and
- contribute towards the development of an iwi planning document or environmental plan.
Currently there are eight co-governance and co-management arrangements between Auckland Council and Māori in Auckland. These give iwi/hapu direct influence and power over natural resources.
Formalised agreements reached between iwi or hapu and Auckland Council “to contribute to council decision making and service delivery”. There is also provision for such arrangements to be formed between iwi/hapu and local boards.
When a consent application is deemed to affect mana whenua values, resource consent applicants are expected to consult with iwi authorities.
Calling all Aucklanders
Please take this opportunity to say whether or not you want the council to introduce Māori seats. As well as making a submission through the council’s public process - and you only need to say yes or no to the options - we encourage you to also contact your ward councillor/s to let them know what you think. A list of wards and councillors can be found here.
The consultation period will run from August 21 until September 24. Auckland Council will provide full information and a feedback form on their AK Have Your Say page.
Our Auckland: Tāmaki Makaurau Māori seats consultation confirmed
Auckland Council: Auckland Council committee structure
Independent Māori Statutory Board: Māori Representation Position Paper 2022
Auckland Council: Māori Outcomes Directorate Ngā Mātārae
Auckland Council: Implementing the Māori identity and wellbeing outcome
Our Auckland: Mayor signs historic iwi relationship agreement
Te Ao Māori News: Minister for Auckland advocates dedicated Māori seats on council
Waatea News: Auckland Council releases Māori seat options