< April 2018 newsletter

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).

One of the key directions of the Plan is to enhance the authority of mana whenua and mataawaka, as Treaty partners, with Māori actively involved in decision-making and management of natural resources.

The Plan’s ‘Māori identity and wellbeing outcome’ strategy promotes:

“the advancement of mana whenua leadership and decision-making, in partnership with council, and seeks to increase the number of co governance arrangements”.

The Auckland Plan 2050 Evidence Report reveals that the Auckland Council has a target of 16 shared-governance-with-iwi arrangements to be in place by 2040. [See Target 2, Figure 4, The Auckland Plan Evidence Report - Māori Identity and Wellbeing]

“The Treaty partnership model of co-governance will subvert the fundamental principles of democracy. Democracy is a political system of equality no matter what your heritage, and a system of accountability no matter what your race or religion. As equal citizens each of us can call our political leaders to account. If iwi as Treaty partner was co-governor we could not do so”.

Dr Elizabeth Rata: ‘Treaty no longer symbol of national unity’. NZ Herald 13 Dec 2012


The Auckland Plan (p.7) references the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority as an example of how mana whenua and Auckland Council partner in decision-making. The Maunga Authority is a co-governance entity, established following a Treaty settlement. The Authority has six representatives from ‘Nga Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau’, and six representatives from the Auckland Council. The chairperson is elected by Nga Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau representatives. The deputy chair is elected by Auckland Council appointees.

The Authority governs 14 Auckland ‘Tūpuna Maunga’, (volcanic cones). Auckland Council is responsible for routine management of the maunga and the administered land and must carry out this responsibility under the direction of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.

How is this arrangement working out for the citizens of Auckland?

It appears the Maunga Authority does not think it necessary to consult over its decisions, which is bringing it into conflict with the wider community. (Obviously, if you are not elected you are not accountable - if people don't like your decisions they can't chuck you out).

The Maunga Authority has imposed a vehicle ban with a minimum of consultation, and all but ignoring the normal political channels for approving such a major change to local maunga. The news that cars would be banned from the summits of five Auckland cones arrived like a diktat, the plan being shaped behind closed doors in Maunga Authority workshops in July, September and November 2016. Those meetings had no published agendas or minutes.

A Herald DigiPoll survey in January 2015, the only poll ever taken on the matter, showed that 58% of Aucklanders favoured the Maungawhau ban, but only 28% favoured extending it to other summits.

Members of Local Boards have complained about the lack of consultation. The Maunga Authority chair, Paul Majurey, told the Listener, (Geoff Chapple article ‘Peak practice: Should cars be banned from Auckland's summits?’ 25 March 2017), that local boards could not rule against a Maunga Authority decision:

“The local board can’t object. In terms of our specific statute there is not a process for objection in terms of decisions made by the authority. When I say that, I’m using the word ‘objection’, as I think most folk use it. I can write a submission [objecting to a draft plan or similar] and there can be a hearing and stuff like that.”


“We don’t make decisions by opinion poll; we make decisions by our statutory purpose. Those might not be popular”.

“Our decisions,” says Majurey, “are not through political statements. They’re through looking at legislation. We have a specific legislative regime. It comes from a Treaty settlement and puts the Maori world-view at its very centre”.

Geoff Chapple writes in an opinion piece published in the NZ Herald, published on 20th February.

“It seems fair to say the Tupuna Maunga Authority proceeds on a predetermined track, irrespective of local concerns. It's fair to say that here, as with other examples of its secrecy and speed, it proceeds by ambush.”

For Geoff’s article, please click here: ‘Auckland Unfairly Losing Access to Maunga’

The Devonport-Takapuna Local Board responded to the vehicle ban on Mt Victoria-Takarunga with a resolution that withheld its support. The Maunga Authority's public response was to say a local board had no final power to intervene.

Citizens of Devonport-Takapuna are fighting back against the Maunga Authority’s “authoritarian manner”

A group has been set up in response to the lack of consultation with both the local community and the Devonport-Takapuna local board over vehicle restrictions on Mt Victoria-Takarunga. Devonport journalist Geoff Chapple has launched a petition in opposition to the ban and is challenging the Authority’s “authoritarian manner”. As of 20th April, more than 700 people had signed the petition. The signatures have been gathered by both street stalls and online. The petition, which will provide a gauge of public opinion for the Maunga Authority, will be presented to the Authority at a public meeting to be held in the Community House, mid to late May. You can sign the petition HERE.

Chapple said he was not either for or against the car ban, but the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board had asked for consultation with the Tupuna Maunga Authority for a year. The local board finally got that meeting a day after the footings and the electrics for a barrier arm were installed.

"That's pretty close to being an insult for democratic process," Chapple said.

Chapple said the authority had monopoly power over all of Auckland's maunga, and in his opinion, had used it arrogantly on Takarunga - Mt Victoria. "It's our maunga, too, remember," he said - as reported in The Shore-Times, 6th April.

Across town the removal of the Easter Cross from Auckland's Mt Roskill is also unpopular. The Easter Cross and Christmas Star have gone from the maunga. The Local churches applied to the Maunga Authority to continue this nearly 60-year-old tradition, but were refused. The decision was made without reference to the wider community.

Click HERE for NZ Herald article: ‘Removal of Easter cross from Auckland's Mt Roskill ruffles feathers’



Not content with having control of the area delineated by legal title, the Maunga Authority is expanding its ‘area of interest’ around the maunga, an area which includes private property. The agenda of the Maunga Authority hui 32, held on 15th December 2017, shows the area of interest is to extend to include the ‘original footprint’ of each of the 14 maunga.

The agenda states that the meaning of the term ‘Tūpuna Maunga original footprint’ will be determined through a historical analysis of early photographs, plans, and other papers which delineate the slopes of the Tūpuna Maunga prior to the intensive modifications of the twentieth century.

A link to the agenda is available HERE. See Attachment C for the initial draft series of maps of the Tūpuna Maunga Areas. The green areas signify the legal title of the Maunga, the pink area includes the ‘original footprint’ – called the ‘Tūpuna Maunga Area’. N.B. Much of this area is private property, and includes residential sections.

The footprint area requires Maunga Authority involvement in any resource consent applications. The terms of reference for their involvement can be found on page 18 ‘Tūpuna Maunga Authority Policies & RMA Rōpū Process Thresholds’.

The Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority demonstrates the realities of co-governance, and the exercise of authority by one ethnic group over the rest of the community. Even though it has become obvious that the concept of co-governance is flawed, Auckland Council, with its target of 16 shared-governance-with-iwi arrangements to be in place by 2040, is seeking to replicate this governance model.

The citizens of Auckland have never been given the opportunity to formally endorse, or reject, this separatist agenda. So, what to do?


Have your say. If we do nothing we are endorsing these principles.

Auckland Council is currently considering the responses it received from the public to the Auckland Plan. At the Democracy Action April working group meeting it was agreed it is important that we all continue providing feedback to the mayor, councillors, and local board members - right up until the council vote on the Plan in June.

Auckland councillors’ email addresses are available by clicking here.

Local Boards’ email addresses are available here

We can also continue to speak out against the proposals in the Plan by sending letters to editors, contacting community groups, posting information on the ‘Neighbourly’ network, and talking to our friends, families, colleagues and other contacts.

If you need more information on the Auckland Plan, please see last month’s newsletter, AVAILABLE HERE. Or contact us at [email protected]


Go back to the April 2018 newsletter


Auckland Plan 2050 Adopted – With The Anti-Democratic Provisions

The Auckland Plan 2050, the long-term strategy for Auckland’s growth and development, and which provides a framework to inform decisions, has been adopted by Auckland Council. Continue reading

The Auckland Plan Subverts Democracy

Members of the Democracy Action working group have been very busy alerting community groups and others to passages in the Auckland Plan 2050 that undermine the fundamental principles of democracy. (Auckland Plan 2050 is Auckland Council’s long term spatial plan for Auckland). Continue reading

The Great Tree Massacre

Photo: Once was a magnificent Moreton Bay Fig In July/August 2023 the Tūpuna Maunga Authority destroyed around 60 healthy mature trees on Ōtāhuhu Mt Richmond. Their crime - they were not native. And it has said it is coming back for more. Continue reading

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

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. 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

Aucklanders' views to be sought on Māori wards

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. Continue reading

No intention to consult with Auckland citizens on Māori wards

Auckland Council is about to engage with mana whenua and mātāawaka about the creation of dedicated Māori seats but have made no plans to consult with the wider Auckland community - even though one of the two models under consideration does not comply with the important democratic principle of proportionality. The adoption of one of the models - the recommendation put forward by the Royal Commission when the supercity was established - would allow for three dedicated seats, thereby increasing Māori representation to a level greater than their proportion in the population. Continue reading

The cats got their tongue - Auckland councillors fail to respond to Atawhai report

In September Democracy Action, in conjunction with the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance, released a briefing paper that we have been working on for some time. The paper, titled ‘Atawhai: Generosity for some’, shows how in just six years Auckland Council spent at least $129 million on targeted Māori spending and iwi consultation. And the bill is increasing. Last year’s spend came to $30 million – more than double the $13 million spent six years ago. 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

Update on Sea Change - the Hauraki Gulf marine spatial plan

In last month’s DA Update, we reported that the Ministries of Conservation and Fisheries are in the process of setting up a Ministerial Advisory Committee, (MAC), the purpose of which is to “help shape the proposals, facilitate engagement with our Treaty Partners and stakeholders, and provide advice and report to the three Ministers – Environment, Conservation & Fisheries.” Continue reading

Update on 'Our Water Future': Auckland's water strategy

The official opportunity to have your say on Auckland’s water strategy has now passed. (However, there is nothing to stop you continuing to express your views to the mayor and councillors). The submissions are now being reviewed.  Continue reading

Invitation to hear Councillor Mike Lee speak on the Sea Change Plan

Democracy Action invites you to an address by Mike Lee – Waitemata and Gulf Ward Councillor on Auckland Council. Mike is very concerned about proposed threats to democracy as advocated in the Sea Change Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan. He outlined his concerns in an article first published in the Gulf News on 21 June, now available on Mike’s website HERE. Continue reading

Ports of Auckland continues to defend made-up history

Our working group has been campaigning to have the new memorial plaque on the Ports of Auckland frontage removed and replaced with one that reflects the facts. As outlined in the August edition of our newsletter, the Ports of Auckland say they are happy with the wording on the plaque and do not intend to change it. The plaque erroneously states "Te Kawau gifted 3000 acres to establish the City of Auckland." It replaces a plaque which referred to a purchase rather than a gift. Continue reading

The Ports Of Auckland Assist Ngati Whatua In Rewriting History

Further indication of how far Auckland Council is prepared to go to promote Maori interests is illustrated by the new memorial plaque on the Ports of Auckland frontage.  Despite documentary evidence to the contrary, Ports of Auckland has backed Ngati Whatua’s attempt to re write history - the truth be damned! Continue reading

October 2018 Bonus Edition

Several members who were unable to attend our special meeting on Sunday 7th October have requested a report on the ‘Sea Change versus democracy in the Hauraki Gulf’ presentation given by Auckland Councillor Mike Lee. Mike has been a local body representative in the Auckland region for over 26 years, having lived and worked in the Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata ward for most of his life. He was invited to address Democracy Action about the power play currently underway for the control of the Gulf. Continue reading

The Office of the Attorney General has released its review of the Sea Change process.

As to the implementation aspect of the Plan, the review says that the agencies involved in the project each developed their own processes for considering how to implement the plan. For instance, Auckland Council and Waikato Regional Council have taken different approaches. Please click HERE to download this file. 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

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

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