The juggernaut advancing major constitutional changes to the way our country is governed continues to roll on, much of it flying under the radar.
The Government’s radical restructuring agenda includes a review of local government, the purpose of which is “to identify how our system of local democracy and governance needs to evolve over the next 30 years, to improve the wellbeing of New Zealand communities and the environment, and actively embody Te Tiriti partnership”.
The latest report from the Review Panel - THE REVIEW INTO THE FUTURE FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT – is currently open for submissions, “to help shape our final report and recommendations” ahead of the final report.
Here’s our chance to have a say - there are now only a few days left to make a submission. The closing date is Tuesday, 28 February 2023.
Please take the time to do so - just follow the directions on the submission page here.
You can provide feedback on one or more of the chapters in the report by answering set questions, and/or go to the final comments box and type your feedback directly. You also have the option of uploading a PDF or DOCX file if you would prefer.
That’s all there is too it.
Need help in formulating your response to the report? Please see below material that may help.
Despite the token references to democracy, the whole orientation of the review is to undermine true democracy. The Review Panel was required by then Minister for Local Government Nanaia Mahuta to recommend ways to cement the concept of local government sharing authority and decision-making power with a group of unelected citizens classified as hapū/iwi/Māori. Doing so effectively creates a racialized local government. This is based on the much promoted but fabricated Treaty of Waitangi partnership between the Crown and Māori, the undefined principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the highly subjective “Māori world view”.
Below are some examples of passages from the Review Panel’s report that you might like to comment on. (N.B. The Democracy Action responses to the recommendations are in italics).
- A Tiriti-based partnership between Māori and local government. (Chapter 3)
- Authentic relationship with hapū/iwi and Māori means shifting towards a future where Māori are an integral part of local governance, and the relationship becomes a genuine, Tiriti-based partnership – enabling the meaningful exercise of rangatiratanga and a more culturally specific exercise of kāwanatanga by councils. This will likely require a new legislative framework for Te Tiriti in local governance, building specific arrangements for partnership and co-governance, and increasing local government and Māori capability and capacity to build and maintain a meaningful Tiriti-based relationship. (Chapter 1.4.1 p.37)
- The system needs to ensure a more meaningful expression of rangatiratanga and a more culturally specific exercise of kāwanatanga by councils – with te ao Māori values reflected at all levels of the system. In some instances, this means Māori having a lead role in decision-making, or the design or delivery of local government functions or services. In others, such decisions will still need to be exercised collaboratively, or by local government via good quality engagement with Māori, but in all instances Māori citizens should be able to make culturally specific contributions to local governance. (Chapter 3.1).
- That councils develop with hapū/iwi and significant Māori organisations within a local authority area, a partnership framework that complements existing co-governance arrangements by ensuring all groups in a council area are involved in local governance in a meaningful way. (Recommendation 7)
- That central government retain the Māori wards and constituencies mechanism (subject to amendment in current policy processes) but consider additional options that provide for a Tiriti-based partnership at the council table. (Recommendation 20. See also Chapter 7).
- To promote innovative, strategic, and future-focused leadership, support and capacity building for elected members is recommended. With this in mind, the Panel is also exploring the merits of models for democracy that enable both capability-based and mana whenua appointments to supplement elected members. The Panel is interested in your feedback on this concept. (p.20)
- Where Māori seek appointment to council committees, we (the Review Panel) think there should be an obligation on council to facilitate a conversation with all hapū/iwi and significant Māori organisations in the area about how this can best be achieved. Where the number of groups in the area is much greater than the number of seats that can be efficiently provided on a committee without it becoming unwieldy, we think it would be reasonable to expect Māori to provide tikanga- or whakapapa-based solutions as to how all groups’ interests can be represented by appointees. Once agreed by Māori, those arrangements should be put in place with full voting rights and remuneration where desired. (Chapter 3.6.3 p.97)
Democracy Action response: “Embedding a Treaty partnership between Māori and local government results in giving away democratic power based on political equality in favour of iwi/Māori interests. Not only is increasing the power of unelected, unaccountable, and unchallengeable Māori persons across local government grossly undemocratic, it also discriminates against other citizens. This breaches section 19(1) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 – freedom from discrimination based on race”.
The Review Panel Report also states:
- We suggest that the existing mechanisms for providing Māori representation at council level are not sufficient and propose the potential to provide more direct representation for mana whenua and significant Kaupapa-based groups. (p.87)
Democracy Action response: “The unelected mana whenua representatives would not be able to be removed at the ballot box. Therefore, there would be no mechanism to enable accountability to the wider community”.
The Review Panel Report:
- That central government leads an inclusive process to develop a new legislative framework for Tiriti-related provisions in the Local Government Act that drives a genuine partnership in the exercise of kāwanatanga and rangatiratanga in a local context and explicitly recognises te ao Māori values and conceptions of wellbeing. (Recommendation 6)
- ……implementing the concept of differentiated liberal citizenship means we (the Review Panel) see te ao Māori values, tikanga, and mātauranga Māori as essential components of a future system of local governance. (Chapter 3, p.84)
Democracy Action response: “New Zealand is a multicultural nation. It is undemocratic and racist to recommend amendments to the Local Government Act to embed tribal/iwi/hapu governance of multicultural New Zealanders - without their agreement - through the exercise of undefined and unlimited kāwanatanga, rangatiratanga, and te ao Māori values. There could well be some positive examples showing healthy situations utilising te ao Māori values, but there is no proof that these undefined values (the nebulous Māori world view) are acceptable to other New Zealanders. Therefore, they should not underpin government decision-making without comprehensive definition, explanation, debate, and referenda.”
The Review Panel Report:
- That central government explores a stronger statutory requirement on councils to foster Māori capacity to participate in local government. (Recommendation 9)
- That local government leads the development of coordinated organisational and workforce development plans to enhance the capability of local government to partner and engage with Māori. (Recommendation 10)
- That central government provides a transitional fund to subsidise the cost of building both Māori and council capability and capacity for a Tiriti-based partnership in local governance. (Recommendation 11 and Chapter 3)
Democracy Action response: “Extra resources and funds will be needed to bring about and support a Tiriti-based partnership. The Review Panel recommends that central government provides a transitional fund to subsidise the cost of building both Māori and council capability and capacity for the proposed partnership. After that, it appears it will be up to ratepayers to foot the bill. Furthermore, the demand for investment to promote “good quality engagement with Māori”, begs the question, how much would councils be expected to pay to bring this about to the satisfaction of all parties?”
The Review Panel Report:
- That local government, in partnership with central government, explores funding and resources that enable and encourage councils to embed social/progressive procurement and supplier diversity as standard practice in local government with nationally supported organisational infrastructure and capability and capacity building (Chapter 5 and recommendation 14(c))
Democracy Action response: “It is not in ratepayers’ best interest that contracts be awarded on “social/progressive or diversity” criteria. Embedding social/progressive procurement and supplier diversity as standard practice in local government means using contractors and suppliers with a commitment to supporting wider outcomes - such as social, economic, environmental, and cultural - therefore going beyond price considerations and recognised best practice procurement policies.
We contend that the government should be allocating supplier contracts based on professional specifications and independent assessments of supplier abilities and track records for effective delivery. Ratepayers do not expect councils to subsidise or build supplier capability.”
The Review Panel Report:
- That central government provides a statutory obligation for councils to give due consideration to an agreed, local expression of tikanga whakahaere in their standing orders and engagement practices, and for chief executives to be required to promote the incorporation of tikanga in organisational systems. (Recommendation 5)
Democracy Action response: “There is no analysis, discussion, or debate about what the local expression of tikanga whakahaere means for local government and whether this would be an improvement on existing systems.”
These are just some examples of the radical recommendations promoted in this report. You do not have to go far into the 258 pages to find others.
We also touched on this issue in our November and December newsletters. See:
On the other hand, there are a handful of recommendations that you may find worthy of supporting, such as:
- That local government adopts greater use of participatory democracy in local decision-making. (DA comment: recommend that the Swiss model is considered - a representative democracy with strong instruments of direct democracy).
- That central and local government agree on arrangements and mechanisms for them to co-invest to meet community wellbeing priorities, and that central government makes funding provisions accordingly.
- That central government expands its regulatory impact statement assessments to include the impacts on local government.
- Civics education: enhanced civics education to enable young people to engage more effectively with local democratic processes.
Other issues you may also like to comment on
The Review Panel recommends that central government undertakes a review of the legislation to:
- adopt Single Transferrable Vote as the voting method for council elections. (Chapter 7.4.5)
- lower the eligible voting age in local body elections to the age of 16. (Chapter 7.4.6).
- provide for a 4-year local electoral term. (Chapter 7.6)
Democracy Action response: “Such changes to the electoral system must be subject to binding referenda”.
The key issues of concern to most ratepayers, such as the provision of public services, are barely mentioned in this report. Instead, the Review Panel appears to be mired in identity politics and on a crusade to foist the Government’s separatist, race-based agenda on the people of New Zealand.
We trust the above information will help inform your submission. If you have any difficulties, message Susan at [email protected]