< December 2017 newsletter


Maori wards for local authorities?

Four more councils have voted to foster racial division - councillors in Palmerston North, Manawatu, Whakatane and Western Bay of Plenty districts have voted to proceed with separate Maori wards, doing so without consulting their constituents. It is now over to locals to demand a vote. Help is being sought to collect signatures for petitions to spark polls in these areas.

If you know anyone who can you assist in the campaigns, or is eligible to sign the petition, please pass on the information available on the Hobson’s Pledge website here.

Stop press! A petition for a poll on Maori wards in the Western Bay of Plenty District has been launched. Those who wish to sign the petition and/or help collect signatures should contact Richard on 027 474 9812, or via email: richardmcnair02@gmail.com See Sunlive articles regarding the petition here, and here. 

Organisers for a petition in Whakatane are still needed. If you have any contacts in this area who may be able to help please let us know as soon as possible. The deadline for delivering the signatures to Councils is by 5pm on February 21, 2018.

N.B. Only those whose names appear on the local body or Parliamentary electoral roll within the local body region are eligible to sign the petition.

The Mayor of Waikato District, Allan Sanson, has come out strongly against imposing Maori wards without the consent of the community. He believes councillors do not have the mandate to change the democratic process, and was quoted in the Waikato Times on 16th November as saying "It's a community decision. The community needs to give us the mandate to change representation. It's not up to 14 politicians." Here, here! Click here for the article.

However, the democratic right for citizens to demand a poll on separate Maori representation may be legislated away under the current government. The Minister for Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, says the government will consider legislating Māori seats on councils in the future. See here for a Maori Television report on the issue.

While it is disappointing four more councils, plus Auckland, are in favour of separate Maori representation, eight other councils have joined those who recently voted against this option, with varying degrees of commitment. They include Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Napier City Council,

Otago Regional Council, Taranaki Regional Council, Taupo District Council, Waikato District Council, South Waikato District Council, and Waipa District Council.

Maori Wards - Auckland Council.

At the Governing Body meeting of the 28th September, Auckland Council voted to ask the Government for a legislative change to allow for the establishment of a Maori ward for Auckland. The resolution adopted by the council does not mention the disbanding of IMSB at the same time. Based on this Auckland would end up with both the IMSB and Maori ward seats. Members are urged to contact the councillors who voted for the resolution to ask what plans are in place to disband the IMSB should a Maori ward be introduced. The ten councillors who voted in favour of establishing a Maori ward for Auckland, in principle, are:

  • Phil Goff 
  • Cathy Casey
  • Efeso Collins
  • Chris Darby
  • Alf Filipaina
  • Richard Hills
  • Penny Hulse
  • Mike Lee
  • John Walker
  • John Watson

Members and supporters are encouraged to contact the councillors to voice your concerns. You can find their email addresses by clicking here.

Contact Mayor Phil Goff @ phil.goff@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.

News items about this issue are available here,  here and here.

It was agreed at our last meeting that there was no pressing need at this stage to start a petition to prevent the introduction of a Maori ward for Auckland. However, all were encouraged to support the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance on-line petition. It is available here.

Mayor Goff and his supporters on council do not want to hear from you

At a meeting of the Auckland Council Finance and Performance Committee on 21st November councillors voted to prevent ratepayers and members of the public presenting their views directly to councillors at public hearings on the Council’s proposed Long-Term Plan (also known as the ten-year budget), and the Auckland Plan. Councillors Greg Sayers and Daniel Newman put forward an amendment to the Mayor’s proposed consultation plan which would have allowed the public to submit on the ten-year budget at public hearings — as every other council allows for. The resolution was defeated by a single vote, (resolution number FIN/2017/164 (b)). It adds insult to injury that this was done with the vote of an unelected and unaccountable IMSB member. See the Democracy Action media release here. A copy of the meeting minutes is available here.

The Sea Change Marine Spatial Plan for the Hauraki Gulf

The process which lead to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan (Sea Change) did not follow the traditional path whereby councils draft a proposed plan, then invite submissions from the community. Instead, the six contributing authorities decided to adopt a new concept - a formal collaborative process whereby (so-called) representatives of the community formed a working party overseen by a project steering group comprised of mana whenua, crown and council representatives. The task of the working party was to come up with a set of recommendations designed to improve the health of the Gulf. These recommendations, over which the tangata whenua dominated steering group had veto powers, are expected to inform the draft plans of the various councils going forward.

The process mirrors that undertaken by Waikato's Healthy Rivers Plan - several years of negotiation, millions of ratepayer dollars (though the working party itself did not get paid,) and the benefit of scientific advice often over-ridden by political considerations. The major difference being that the Marine Spatial Plan is non-statutory, therefore the recommendations are theoretically non-binding on the councils. However, there is some debate as to how far councils can ignore the recommendations of a body charged with a specific task unless the recommendations are completed rejected and the process begun again.

The selection of the working party began with two large hui in the Auckland and Waikato regions. Attendees were invited by their respective councils and included many fishermen, aquaculture interests, the Port, plus recreational and environmental interests. Only four representatives of land based industry were invited to the Auckland hui out of around 150 attendees - even though any Gulf Plan will potentially generate numerous new land use rules.

From these two hui 60 people were chosen by an unexplained process to become the "selection panel" for the working party. These people then selected representatives of the major stakeholder groups in the Gulf by listening to a series of impromptu two minute speeches and lining up behind their favoured candidates. The only stakeholder group that was permitted to choose its own candidates were iwi. None of the other stakeholder groups appeared happy with the process.

Having been selected, the working party representatives were meant to report back to their respective stakeholder groups to ensure they were "on the right track" and indeed, there were official report back sessions to all interested members of the public. It was hard to determine what methods they were intending to promote for improving Gulf health.

After nearly three years the working party presented a package of recommendations which they stressed were not to be cherry-picked. They said every stakeholder group had won something. The impression was that a series of deals had been cut to reach agreement. The problem with this "not to cherry pick" directive was that the community would effectively be denied the chance to suggest changes to the draft proposals.

Tangata whenua's win was a recommendation that they co-govern and co-manage the entire coastline of the Hauraki Gulf. Agreeing to this proposal effectively gives tribal authorities control of the Gulf itself and all the land that drains into it.

It was noted at our November meeting that it is little wonder the Sea Change Plan pushes the co-governance model so strongly, given the makeup of the Project Steering Group, which was formed to oversee the creation of the Plan. What began as a 50/50 co-governance arrangement, transformed into a group consisting of nine representatives of Maori interests, and only four representatives of democratically elected authorities. What appears to be a takeover of the process by Maori interests was further exacerbated by the change of the Independent Chair of the Stakeholder Working Group in September 2015 to Paul Beverley. Mr Beverley specialises in Māori and Treaty settlement law and negotiations, and in designing co-governance and co-management structures with Māori. He has advised widely on Māori issues relating to the coastal area.

The question must be asked, is the process followed during the development of the Sea Change Plan an example of how co-governance works?

With the ultimate goal of the co-governance of all natural resources - iwi leaders want to be at the decision-making tables, but believe they should not have to rely on voters to get there - it is important to voice our opposition regarding these co-governance proposals, particularly to the Auckland Council, and the other members of the Hauraki Gulf Form (HGF). It is recommended we all, as individuals, contact the Mayors and Councillors requesting the rejection of the co-governance proposals in the Sea Change Plan. A list of the members of the HGF is available on the Gulf Forum website here.

Iwi bid for control of the Waitakere Ranges

On 26th October, an Auckland iwi sent a letter to Auckland Council demanding closure of the Waitakere Ranges. Te Kawerau te Maki, who claim mana whenua* status over the area, state that due to the Kauri die-back disease, they are determined to impose a rahui - with or without the council’s support. They seek a total prohibition or quarantine on human presence. Click here for a copy of the letter.

Iwi have no statutory powers to impose a rahui, however their enhanced status appears to have given them the ability to influence the relevant authority to comply with their demands. In answer to Te Kawerau te Maki’s demand the Auckland Council, after acknowledging it would be impossible to police the closure of the entire Waitakere Ranges, has more than doubled the number of tracks now closed to the public. The council has also agreed to work with the iwi on protection measures. See NZ Herald news report here.

While the Kauri die-back disease is a serious problem, the attempt by Te Kawerau te Maki to impose their will on both the council and the public in such a dictatorial manner is very concerning. Now that the tribes of Auckland have been given ‘mana whenua’ status, is this a harbinger of things to come?

NGOs who have been dedicated to environmental protection for many years must be looking on with envy at the level of power now afforded iwi.

* Māori who have historic and territorial rights over the land.

Go back to the December 2017 newsletter


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