Some think co-governance is being nice and inclusive - but it's not working out that way in practice.
All is not well in the co-governance arrangements we have been observing in Auckland. We have reported previously on how the citizens of Devonport have been treated by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority. This unfortunate state of affairs was reinforced at the Authority’s hui on May 6th.
TMA meeting 6 May 2019
One of our members went along as an observer, and was shocked by the hostility shown towards to the community at large, and the disrespectful manner with which members of the public were treated by the Authority. Please read a report on the meeting - it is a real eye-opener as to what members of the Authority think about what they call ‘others’. It is available on the Democracy Action Facebook page.
Public input at this meeting included a) the presentation of a petition to ask the Tūpuna Maunga Authority to restore the cross/star on Puketāpapa (Mt Roskill); and b) a plea from a woman and her young son to stop the felling of heritage trees on Māngere mountain.
In response Cr Josephine Bartley abused and berated the presenters and other members of the public. She repeatedly told the woman that her views were disgusting. This verbal attack happened without a peep from the Chair, Paul Majurey.
Jonathan Subritzky, who presented the 4,000 strong petition to show community support for his case, had this to say following the meeting:
“I discovered in that meeting that the Authority:
- Intends to remove, eventually, all man-made structures on the mountains, particularly memorials. One councillor, in a comment I found frankly shocking, made a derogatory comment about the names and ethnicities of those engraved on such memorials, and said these names do not "reflect tangata whenua or diverse communities" in Auckland. I thought that very disrespectful to those whose labours built this city and country, and who are rightly memorialised for their efforts; and
- Has no serious intention to permit long-held traditions such as erecting the cross on Mt Roskill at Christmas and Easter to continue".
More than this, it is the narrow-minded and ideological bent of the body which I found most unsettling.
The members of this body told me in no uncertain terms that they are not there to duly consider the views of the broader community and to respond to those views as a representative body. They are there to act in the interests of the 'maunga', and Maori.
In other words, there is no 'shared ground' between us. The Authority represent an ethnic irredentist claim to these spaces. The concept of compromise is foreign to them and they provided no path forward for us whereby we can get this very small request granted. Even a cross being on the summit for a few weeks a year is too much for them.
The sheer narrow-mindedness of this body was astounding.
This is where we are as a city and a country, where a petition myself and others started to get a symbol of our community back, which is supported by almost 10% of Mt Roskill, is tossed aside by a public authority because they are unwilling to even grant legitimacy to those of us who live here and are not Maori".
"I have realised the problem is not a 'wrong decision' by the Maunga Authority. It IS the Maunga Authority. This group of people is manifestly unreasonable, and their attitude is absolutely undemocratic.”
Jonathan’s report in full has been posted on our Facebook page.
Jonathan and fellow campaigners on Mt Roskill
The Authority has made it very clear a number of times they do not exist to administer the mountains of Auckland in accordance with the wishes of the wider community, as the people of Devonport have also discovered. (Please see previous Democracy Action Updates for details).
Auckland Council representatives merely window dressing
It is a common misconception that the Auckland Council representatives on the co-governance body are there to represent the citizens of Auckland. You could be forgiven for thinking so, especially as the ratepayers fund the Authority - but this is not the case. Under the legislation they are there primarily to carry out the wishes of Auckland’s iwi. The Chair, Paul Majurey, trots out the following clause from the legislation that established the Tūpuna Maunga Authority whenever decisions are challenged by the community:
“that in exercising its powers and carrying out its functions in relation to the Tūpuna Maunga, the Tūpuna Maunga Authority must have regard to the spiritual, ancestral, cultural, customary, and historical significance of the administered lands to Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau,"
"All decisions made by the authority are required to be considered through this lens."
What is even more disturbing, judging by her behaviour at the meeting of May 6, is that at least one of the councillors on the Authority, (Ms Bartley), appears to be relishing the opportunity to disregard any obligation to her constituents.
As Dr Muriel Newman writes in her article ‘Undermining Democracy in New Zealand’:
“The reality is that wherever iwi co-governance bodies have been established, it is a racial minority with vested interests that are directing policy outcomes for their own enrichment”