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August 2022

Are you looking for something interesting to listen to on these cold, wet winter days? I would like to bring your attention to a couple of video recordings I highly recommend you take the time to watch. One is by Professor Elizabeth Rata of the University of Auckland, who gave a well thought out and reasoned presentation ‘In Defence of Democracy’ at the New Zealand ACT Party Annual Conference last month. Elizabeth contends that the country is at a crossroads, and unless we all speak out, and continue to do so, we will lose our hard-fought democratic rights. Click HERE to access Elizabeth's video.

The other highly recommended video is by Professor James Allan of the University of Queensland, who has completed an analysis of the He Puapua report, and the implications for New Zealand’s liberal democracy in adopting its recommendations. Professor Allan’s presentation is available HERE. You can read more about his analysis at ‘Professor James Allan analysis of He Puapua now available’ below.

But first, I am making a plea to take urgent action against the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu) Bill – the third and final reading is scheduled for this Wednesday 3 August. Hobson’s Pledge have made it amazingly easy for you to tell all MPs to vote against this bill, which will give Ngai Tahu two unelected seats on ECAN. Click HERE for access to the ‘Defend democracy - tell them NO’ email, which you can edit before sending. It will take you all of two minutes to do so.

For a list of reasons why we believe the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu) Bill is a bad idea, see ‘Government set to endorse radical change to electoral Law’ below.

Well done everyone! I understand that the select committee dealing with the Water Services Entity Bill has been swamped by the unprecedented deluge of submissions received. A big thank you to all who made a submission - and for encouraging others to do the same. It has been reported to me that of a sample of submissions examined, the vast majority (over 80%) were strongly opposed, with the most common objections mentioning co-governance and racial privilege.

But, we haven’t finished yet - so many of us are taking the opportunity to speak to the Parliamentary select committee which will hear submissions that in a conservative estimate it would take at least 18 weeks to hear them all! We will send out more information you might like to include in your oral submission in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I recommend you read ‘Talk of a coup ratchets up Three Waters debate’, by freelance journalist Graham Adams, who points out that the extent of iwi influence in Three Waters is far wider than co-governance.

Local Body elections are fast approaching, and campaigning for a place around the council decision-making table has begun. This is an opportunity for us to elect representatives with the backbone to take a stand when democratic principles are at stake. We urge you to question candidates about their stance on issues such as equal political rights, co-governance, Māori wards, and unelected appointments to committees with voting rights. And backbone will be needed if Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has her way. Her latest bill will be instrumental in making it harder for councils to resist the push for Māori wards - see ‘Mahuta to force councils to consider Māori wards’ below.

Another area where central government is issuing controversial directives to councils concerns the new set of rules relating to district planning. As landowners on the West Coast are finding, some of the rules have an immediate legal effect on the notification of proposed district plans, even though affected landowners have not been consulted, and the plan has not yet been adopted. Read more on this at ‘Anger on West Coast as new rules impact property rights’ below.

We have faced, and are still facing, a raft of radical 'reforms' since the Jacinda Ardern Labour Government came into power in 2017 - with the pace of change stepping up considerably this parliamentary term. One could ask - are these reforms a major driver of the big increase in people in the public service - reportedly 50,000 more than there were five years ago? 

Thank you for your continued interest and support. If you have any suggestions you would like to offer, or if you need further information or help, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

And please help spread the message by sharing our newsletters with anyone who may be interested. You can receive further updates by registering or joining us.

Kind regards,

Susan Short

[email protected]


The Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu) Bill, creating permanent Ngāi Tahu representation on Environment Canterbury (ECAN), undergoes its third reading this week. This legislation represents a significant shift away from two key principles of democracy: equal suffrage and accountability at the ballot box. Continue reading


West Coast landowners from Karamea to Haast are shocked and angry after receiving letters from the Te Tai o Poutini plan committee chair out of the blue, informing them of new legal planning rules affecting their land. Letters to 1500 property owners reveal that the new rules have immediate effect. Both urban and rural properties are impacted. Continue reading


Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta wants to make it mandatory for councils to consider Māori wards. “Under the proposed changes, when councils undertake their regular Representation Review every six years, the first step must be a decision about whether to establish Māori wards or constituencies. Currently there is no obligation to consider Māori wards at all”, said Ms Mahuta. Continue reading


Towards the end of 2022 Democracy Action commissioned Professor James Allan, of the University of Queensland, to produce an analysis of the He Puapua Report  - a report that calls for highly controversial constitutional change. Specifically, we sought Professor Allan’s opinion on the implications for New Zealand’s liberal democracy in adopting recommendations made in He Puapua, and what this would mean for the future of New Zealand. Continue reading