The month of February brought more good news for democracy.
Thanks to the commitment and hard work of a number of people, the citizens of Western Bay of Plenty, Manawatu, Palmerston North, Whakatane and Kaikoura will get to vote on Māori wards in May. Congratulations to all concerned! However, the forces which seek to overturn the democratic right of citizens to petition for a poll on Māori wards are stepping up their fight. See the newsletter below for more details.
Democracy Action has been very busy over the past couple of months working to inform the public about the huge number of claims to the foreshore and seabed made under the Marine and Coastal Area Act, and offering advice on what they can do to help counter these claims. Our most successful avenue has been through Facebook ads, quite a costly exercise, but considered well worth it for the number of people contacted. Feedback has been very revealing. As we suspected very few people were aware of the issue. This is not surprising considering the lack of coverage in the media, and the reluctance of the government to inform the citizens. Thank you to all who were able to register their interest with the High Court before the 26th February deadline. For those who were unable to do so, there is still an opportunity to be involved by helping others who have registered.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. If you have any suggestions you would like to offer, or if you need further information or help, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to the hard work of locals, in some cases with the support of the people at Hobson’s Pledge, all five councils that voted to introduce Māori wards, (i.e. Manawatu, Whakatane, Western Bay of Plenty, Palmerston North and Kaikoura), will now be polling their citizens in a binding referendum as to whether they support Māori wards for their area. See Hobson’s Pledge media release here.
In response to the binding poll in Palmerston North, a lobby group in the Palmerston North/Manawatu area has launched a campaign to promote the introduction of Maori wards, and to encourage voters to say "yes" to Māori wards in the upcoming referendums. A report on their campaign launch is available here.
As well as campaigning to promote Māori wards, supporters want to overturn the law which enables voters to challenge any Māori ward decision through a binding poll.
We have been very busy publicising the issue by contacting as many people as possible to alert them to the 26 February deadline to register as an interested party in the claims, and advising how to go about doing so. Over December/January over 400 organisations were contacted. This was followed up by a Facebook campaign, which included a video with links to a landing page on our updated website. This was launched on Friday 9th February, running for just over two weeks, and resulted in 10,700 visits to our website. We also sent a link to the video and website to all those on our mailing list. Our members have also been busy informing friends, family and other contacts, drawing their attention to the video and webpage.
In May 1995 the Crown signed a Deed of Settlement with Waikato-Tainui that included cash and land valued at $170 million (since topped up with an additional $260 million, with more to come). The public was told at the time the settlement was "full and final". However, full and final it does not appear to be as the iwi moves beyond negotiating for economic benefits to pushing for statutory power through co-governance arrangements, seats at the council table, and the RMA.
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:
Before the meeting Janet waded through the agenda and the two main reports (by the Chair and acting CEO), which revealed three key and recurring items:
1. To enable Mana Whenua to have a greater role in the Hauraki Gulf Forum
2. To continue work towards the “New Governance Model”