Season’s greetings to you!
Thank goodness Christmas and summer holidays are just around the corner - however, we haven't taken our foot off the pedal just yet. Here’s another newsletter updating some of the issues of concern, with suggestions of actions you can take to help. This includes a reminder of the fast approaching deadline to have your say on LGNZ’s ‘Reinvigorating Democracy: The case for localising power and decision making to councils and communities,’ which is due by Sunday 15th December.
Yahoo! We end the year with some very welcome news - the entrenchment of Maori seats failed at the second reading, and the Government has signalled it will not change the law to prevent Maori wards being subject to referenda. Thank you so much to all who made submissions, both written and oral, and otherwise contacted MPs.
However, this pleasing news is tempered somewhat by the discovery that the Auckland Council Kaitiaki Forum has an agenda to become part of a tripartite shared governance arrangement between themselves, central and local government. Please see more on this below. I recommend you read the letter the Forum sent to the Productivity Commission for a full understanding of their expectations.
Many thanks for all your support over what has been another very busy year. There has been a plethora of discussion documents and proposed changes to legislation inviting feedback this year – often more than one a month! There's always a lot to read, digest and clarify, and finding time to do so can be a real challenge. So, we are very grateful for all who take the time to do so.
Included in the newsletter you will find a list of interesting reading. These cover a variety of topics relating to the issues we cover. I do hope you will find the time to read them over the holiday break.
You are welcome to share the information in this newsletter with your friends, family and other contacts. Also, please direct to our website anyone who may be interested in the issues we cover and would like to be added to our mailing list. See: https://www.democracyaction.org.nz/about
We look forward to seeing or hearing from you in 2020. Our first meeting of the year will be held on Monday 10th February.
Have a happy, safe and enjoyable Christmas.
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.
Time is fast running out to send your feedback regarding Local Government NZ’s discussion paper ‘Reinvigorating Local Democracy: Localising Power and Decision-making to Councils and Communities’. Please send your comments by Sunday 15 December 2019
We end the year with the welcome news that the bill making it harder to remove the Māori seats from Parliament has been voted down at the second reading, with New Zealand First opposing the change. Only Labour and the Green Party supported the legislation. The bill cleared its first hurdle in Parliament last year with the unlikely support of New Zealand First, which opposes the Māori seats. The party wanted to use the bill as a vehicle to hold a two-part referendum on the seats, asking whether they should be entrenched or done away with altogether. But no referendum was added after the select committee stage.
Despite constituents strongly opposing separate race-based representation, as shown in referenda held in 2018, the number of councils across New Zealand which have appointed unelected members with voting rights to council committees has grown exponentially over the last couple of years.
The following are examples (by no means the total number) of councils who have recently taken the obligation to consult with Māori to an undemocratic level:
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.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has been negotiating a resolution to the stand-off between Fletcher Residential, a subsidiary of Fletcher Building, and the protest movement which has halted development of the South Auckland land.
The latest news (as of late November 2019) is that Minister Robertson won't confirm or deny whether a Government loan to buy Ihumātao land is on the table, but has said the Government was conscious of setting a precedent which could affect existing Treaty settlements.
There has been a disappointing response from the Race Relations Commissioner in relation to complaints made by members of the public about the a seven-part series published by the NZ Herald - “Land of the Long White Cloud – confronting NZ’s colonial past”. The commission has turned a blind eye to the series’ negative effect on race relations, instead lamely suggesting the correspondent contact the Media Council, or complain to the independent Human Rights Review Tribunal. Please see below a typical response received by a member of the public:
One area where we have not been successful is in countering the claim that the land to establish the settlement of Auckland was gifted by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. This is despite offering evidence to the contrary to the powers-that-be, - copy of the Deed of Purchase - the text of which clearly states that "the chiefs consented to give up to sell a portion of the land to the Queen of England for ever and ever......
‘Dividing a Nation; the Return of Tikanga’ by John Robinson - available from Tross Publishing
It is important the issue of tikanga be known, discussed and debated. In his book, Dr Robinson writes about the introduction of tikanga into our laws and way of life, setting rules that determine the behaviour not just of Maori, but all New Zealanders. The appendix includes a list of legislation dividing New Zealanders.