< September 2023 newsletter


Māori seats for Auckland Council: Yes/No? Have your say

Citizens of Auckland - please take this opportunity to say whether you want the council to introduce Māori seats. Consultation closes at 11:59pm on Sunday 24 September 2023. 

Auckland Council is currently seeking feedback on their proposal to introduce up to three dedicated Māori seats.

As well as gauging support for this proposal, the Council is asking for feedback on how the seats should be filled - by election, or by a combination of election and appointment. One option is for Auckland citizens on the Māori electoral roll vote for representatives to fill one or two of these seats, with a possible third to be appointed by mana whenua (Māori with ancestral authority over a specific area of land). More information on the options is available on the council website at: https://akhaveyoursay.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/maori-seats

Auckland Council already has ways to ensure Māori influence policy and participate in the decision-making process.

If adopted the Māori seats would be in addition to the Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB), a body established as an alternative to Māori wards. For an enlightening account on the background to the introduction of the IMSB, listen to Rodney Hide explain on Reality Check Radio HERE.

The IMSB is highly undemocratic – it gives political power to a group of people who are legally accountable to no-one.

The IMSB members are neither elected by nor accountable to Māori voters, let alone the wider community. Under section 82 of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 they do not appear to be legally accountable to anyone.

The IMSB is represented on all committees of the Governing Body, mostly with provision for two IMSB members, with voting rights on most of them, (although not on the Governing Body itself). This confers an unusually significant level of influence upon a group that lacks accountability to the community. As noted by Councillor Mike Lee during the Governing Body meeting on 22 June 2023, when approval was being sought on the public consultation material regarding Māori seats, votes cast by IMSB members can potentially - and sometimes do - sway decisions against the preferences of the majority of elected councillors. See video below.

To view this on Auckland Council's YouTube page, see: Auckland Council Meeting of the Governing Body - 22 June 2023 - Item 10 (between 54:16 and 58:52).

The fact that the IMSB has been granted voting rights on committees is the primary reason why this Board and how it influences the decision-making process must be an integral part of the discussion on whether to introduce Māori seats. The Council’s public consultation document does not make clear this Board has voting power, and how this influences the decisions made by Council.

The IMSB is just one of the ways Auckland Council ensures Māori are involved in decision-making processes. For additional information on this, please read the Democracy Action article in the elocal magazine (by clicking HERE), and also our August newsletter - 'AUCKLANDERS' VIEWS TO BE SOUGHT ON MĀORI WARD SEATS

What's ahead? The IMSB sees the council's current Maori seats proposal as just another step, (a scenario like the proverbial boiling frog in the pot). At its March meeting a resolution was passed recommending equal partnership and representation on Council.

People of Auckland - please take this opportunity to say whether you want the council to introduce Māori seats. Consultation closes at 11:59pm on Sunday 24 September 2023. 

Go to akhaveyoursay.nz/maori-seats to read Auckland Council’s consultation materials and to submit using the online form provided. 

You only need say whether you support, or do not support Māori seats - you do not need to elaborate.

If you do want to add a comment, please see below some suggested points you could make, (in your own words please):

  • Race based seats are inherently racist
  • Separating citizens into "Māori" and the "rest of us" is divisive and will damage our communities.
  • Time and time again New Zealanders, when given a vote, have rejected racial segregation. According to law firm Tomkins Wake, in the 20 years to 2021 that New Zealand law provided for the establishment of Māori wards constituencies in local government, 24 councils attempted to establish Māori wards, and just three succeeded. Twenty one were rejected due to citizens' initiated referenda.
  • There is no impediment to Māori being elected to the Council. We all have the opportunity to represent our community through democratic elections.
  • Councillors should make decisions on behalf of and for the benefit of the whole community. Separate Māori seats will result in the election of councillors who are responsible only to Māori, with no obligation to consider the interests of the rest of the community.
  • The option of appointed Māori seats (as suggested by the Royal Commission) is fundamentally undemocratic.

Auckland Council’s consultation page has details of webinars and public events that you can attend to find out more or to submit in person. Two ‘Have Your Say’ events are offered to allow the public to present directly to the Governing Body.

  • Public (14 September, 1pm – 5pm)  To register, please email [email protected] and include the speaker’s name, entity or group name (if you represent an entity or are part of a group) and contact details.
  • Mana whenua and mātāawaka (2 October, 10am – 5pm)

As well as sharing your views through the Council’s online form, we encourage you to contact your ward councillor/s directly to let them know whether you support Maori seats or not. A list of wards and councillors can be found here.

For more information please read the Democracy Action article in the elocal magazine, available by clicking HERE.

Also, 'AUCKLANDERS' VIEWS TO BE SOUGHT ON MĀORI WARDS’ published in the Democracy Action August newsletter. This outlines other ways Auckland Council already ensures Māori influence policy and participate in the decision-making process.

References:

Media:

Go back to the September 2023 newsletter


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