< July 2019 newsletter

Co-governance – the Trojan horse of iwi control

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”

Further information:

Go back to the July 2019 newsletter


Where the parties stand on co-governance

Many of us are opposed to co-governance and believe that decision-making must be fair, transparent, and democratic, with all decision-makers accountable to the citizens. This being so, we have reviewed the main political parties to find out their stance on co-governance - both in general and specific to the Hauraki Gulf. The parties appear in alphabetical order. Continue reading

Warning from Northern Ireland – co-government does not work

The Northern Ireland governing system established 25 years ago is set up as a power-sharing style of government that relies on the cooperation of different social groups. This arrangement has not delivered the normalised, shared, and de-polarised democracy which was promised by political leaders and pro-consociation theoreticians. It has serious flaws, many of which have become apparent over time. Continue reading

What the hell is co-governance? An explainer……

‘Co-governance’ is an emerging and developing model of decision-making in New Zealand. The term refers to a shared governance arrangement - with representatives of iwi on one side, and representatives of central and/or local government on the other, each side having equal voting rights at the decision-making table. Continue reading

The thugs’ veto visits Orewa

Last month, Julian Batchelor of Stop Co-Governance held a public meeting at the Orewa Community Centre to raise awareness of the dangers of co-governance, and to gather political support to stop it. However, a rabble of badly behaved people sparked a noisy counter protest. This was obviously an attempt to sabotage the event to prevent Mr Batchelor from airing his views. Continue reading

Human Rights Commission partners with Iwi Chairs’ Forum

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is supposedly an independent Crown entity, but this is no longer the case. It appears to be greatly influenced by the National Iwi Chairs’ Forum, a group seeking a profound change to the existing political order. Continue reading

Say no to co-governance petition

Here's our chance to force a referendum on co-governance. Please get in behind a recently-launched petition with the question: “Should New Zealand implement a form of co-governance where 50% of elected representatives to Parliament and local authorities (including community boards and local boards) be elected by voters of Maori descent, and 50% by non-Maori?” Continue reading

Co-governance does far more than ‘tweak’ democracy

Co-governance is a manifestation of the Treaty ‘partnership’ ideology. To date co-governance has largely been confined to Treaty settlements over specific natural resources. However, this is now expanding to cover public services and local authorities. Continue reading

Co-governance advocates bully dissenter on Hauraki Gulf Forum

  Below is an email sent to members of the Gulf Users Group on 28 April 2022: I am writing to bring your attention to an attempt by the Hauraki Gulf Forum’s co-chairs to muzzle Auckland Councillor John Watson, a Forum member, after he shared on social media our NZ Herald advertisement. This advert named the five local body councillors who voted to introduce a new 50:50 co-governance arrangement with mana whenua and ‘others’ to manage the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Furthermore, these five Councillors failed to seek a mandate from the public and ignored the concerns of thousands that had signed our petition or emailed Forum members. Continue reading

Rotorua Lakes Council pushing for Māori co-governance

The Rotorua Lakes Council no longer believes in one person one vote, each of equal value. Instead, it believes that if you are not Māori, your vote should be worth less. The Council is currently pursuing a law change to enable an undemocratic representation model to be implemented. The model it prefers would consist of three Māori ward seats, three general ward seats, and four at-large seats. However, adopting this arrangement would give the 19,791 citizens on the Māori roll 2.6 times the voting power of the 51,618 citizens on the general roll. Continue reading

No place for democracy in Ngāi Tahu grab for political power

Oral submissions on the bill to entrench Ngāi Tahu seats on Environment Canterbury were heard by the Māori Affairs Committee last week – and those who watched the proceedings report that there were considerably more presentations in opposition than those in support. Continue reading


The partnership ideology under the Treaty of Waitangi is poised to extend to the management of Auckland’s 28 Regional Parks if provisions in the Draft Regional Parks’ Management Plan are adopted. Continue reading

Māori seats in local government a step to 50-50 power share

Photo: Andrew Judd hiding from a taniwha Before the ink has dried on the establishment of separate Māori seats on 38 councils, calls for "more equitable representation and a partnership with Māori" in a 50/50 power sharing model have arisen - not only from Māori sovereignty activists, but also from some councillors. Continue reading

Iwi push for 'tripartite governance'

A letter to the New Zealand Productivity Commission from the Auckland Council Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum (a collective of the 19 hapū and iwi authorities), dated 22 August 2019, reveals an agenda that turns democracy on its head. The letter talks of an “emerging tripartite governance” – over land and water, comprising central government, local government, and mana whenua. Continue reading

Citizens stand up to the Tūpuna Maunga Authority

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority* (TMA), who control Auckland’s 14 volcanic cones (tūpuna maunga), is once again causing consternation amongst the people of Auckland - this time by wielding its powers in a destructive and seemingly vengeful way. Waging utu on the exotics? The TMA has plans to remove 2,000 exotic trees from the 14 maunga, and is currently in the process of implementing its decision. Continue reading

More co-governance to be served up to unsuspecting communities

Increasingly Treaty of Waitangi settlements are including a requirement to enter into co-governance arrangements. The Ngāti Hinerangi Claims Settlement Bill, which had its first reading in parliament on 19th September, is one such settlement. The Bill announces the intention to introduce a co-governance arrangement over the upper part of the Waihou and Piako river catchments areas. Continue reading

The Maori world view - 'military' style gates on Mt Albert

Users of Ōwairaka, the maunga in Auckland's Mt Albert, are objecting to the ‘military’ style gates designed to enforce the summit vehicle ban. Comments include words such as "hideous", "an atrocity", and “out of step with the place's natural beauty”. Continue reading

Advancing the co governance agenda

Auckland Council recently released a discussion document on developing ‘a water strategy to ensure a secure, sustainable, and healthy future for water in Auckland’ - Our Water Future: Auckland's water discussion. Continue reading

Auckland Council’s ‘Our Water Future’ - Remember to have your say

Auckland Council recently released a discussion document on developing ‘a water strategy to ensure a secure, sustainable, and healthy future for water in Auckland’. We covered this issue in the March update, but to briefly recap, as to the advancement of a co-governance agenda, concerns centre on the following statements: Continue reading

Draft Auckland Plan Subverts Democracy

In last month’s newsletter, we went into some detail about how the Draft Auckland Plan 2050 is promoting the subversion of our democracy by bestowing extra co-governance rights on a group of citizens based on race, and requiring the recognition of ‘mana whenua’ as rangatira (chief) in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). Continue reading

Update on the fate of Auckland maunga trees

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority – a Treaty partnership body that equally comprises iwi and Auckland Council members - wants to rid Auckland’s volcanic cones (maunga) of all exotic trees - some 2500 in all. Continue reading

Maunga Trees Safe - For Now

Auckland residents Averil and Warwick Norman have won an appeal against the Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) decision to fell 345 exotic trees on Ōwairaka/Mt Albert. The Court of Appeal found that the TMA’s plan breached the Reserves Act and didn't carry out appropriate consultation with the public. The decision also concluded Auckland Council acted unlawfully by not publicly notifying the tree felling resource consent. Continue reading

Goff replies to complaint over the Tūpuna Maunga Authority – claiming no mandate to intervene

Last month we reported on the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Mākaurau Authority meeting of May 6, at which members of the public who made presentations were abused and berated by members of the authority. Please see below a copy of a media release by one of the presenters, outlining his concerns. Continue reading

Devonport citizens continue the fight against autocratic decision-making

You may remember the protest in Devonport early last year, whereby a group of citizens pushed back on the Tupuna Maunga Authority’s (TMA) autocratic decision-making concerning Takuranga / Mt Victoria.  Continue reading

North Head now controlled by Tupuna Maunga Authority

As part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, 14 volcanic cones were given to 13 iwi and hapū of Auckland when the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Deed passed into law in 2014. North Head (Maungauika) is the last of these to come under the control of the Tupuna Maunga Authority (TMA) - when it was transferred from the Department of Conservation on January 18.  Continue reading

Maunga Authority Snubbing Local Community

For an example of what we can expect from a co-governance entity we need look no further than the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority here in Auckland. The Authority is presently imposing its car ban on Mt Victoria-Takarunga, with a minimum of consultation and all but ignoring the normal political channels for approving such a major change, according to Devonport based journalist Geoff Chapple, in an opinion piece published in the NZ Herald on 20th February: Continue reading