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March 2021

A big thank you to all who made submissions on the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill. It was a mad last-minute scramble, given that the public were given just two days to do so. Despite the disgracefully short time frame there were over 12,000 submissions on the bill - of which 76 per cent were opposed.

This was a sham consultation process, making a mockery of Labour’s promise at the last election to ensure that major decisions about local democracy involve full participation of the local population from the outset. Yeah, right!!

Changing the law will not remove the fact that there is significant opposition to councils introducing Maori wards without gaining the consent of their communities. The onus is now fairly and squarely on local councils to consult with and respect the wishes of their citizens. If your council is one that is considering establishing separate Māori representation, we urge you to have your say – but it appears you may need to be pro-active. As regards the establishment of Māori wards many councils actively seek out the views of the iwi and Māori communities but shamefully are more reticent about seeking feedback from the wider population.

Some of us also recently also submitted on the Water Services Bill. While endorsing the intention of the Bill to ensure that drinking water supplies across New Zealand are safe and reliable, it contains some provisions of concern, including one that requires all persons who perform or exercise functions, powers, and duties under the legislation to give effect to ‘Te Mana o te Wai’. As the authorities regarding of this requirement, the legislation appears to place iwi, hapu and Māori in a powerful position. (See pages 5 & 6 of the Department of Internal Affairs Overview of Bill as Referred to the Select Committee)

Have your say

There are several other opportunities to have a say coming up. You may be interested in joining us by providing feedback on the following. N.B. In some cases deadlines are fast approaching.

  • The Ministry of Primary Industries is calling for public submissions on the Ngāti Pāoa imposed rāhui, which covers the entire coastline of Waiheke Island. The closing date for submissions is 5pm on 22 March 2021. While there is broad agreement that the Hauraki Gulf needs measures to protect the marine environment, including kaimoana, there is disquiet about who will be in control of the ongoing management system. Please see ‘Have your say on Waiheke rāhui’ below for more details.
  • The Auckland Council 10-year Budget 2021-2031 (long-term plan) - heralded as ‘our recovery budget’. Consultation closes at noon on 22 March.
  • Open Government Partnership NZ (opengovpartnership.nz) Public feedback accepted until Thursday 1 April. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an international agreement by governments committed to creating greater transparency, increasing civic participation, and using new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable.

The Government’s much anticipated draft history curriculum is also open for public feedback. The opportunity to have a say runs until May 31. Please see more about this below.  A Democracy Action working group member is currently analyzing the curriculum. We will send you the results of this research late April/early May. In the meantime, we suggest you take a look for yourself – click HERE.

Please see below notices of upcoming meetings/events which may be of interest to you:

  • Hauraki Gulf Forum Meeting at 1.00pm 22 March. Silver Fern Farms Events Centre, 44 Stanley Street, Te Aroha. The agenda is due to be published around 17 March.
  • Michael Belgrave – ‘The Recommendations on the History Curriculum for NZ schools’ March 24th 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM, AUT City Campus, Wellesley St Auckland. This event is hosted by the NZ Fabian Society. Click HERE to register.

While there are times when we the public are invited to ‘have your say’, this does not preclude keeping our MPs, Councillors, and local board members informed of our views at any time. You can contact them by email or letter. Click HERE for MPs contact details. Or pick up the phone to ring Parliament - 04 817 9999.

As you can see, the fight to protect our democracy continues. Thank you so much for helping!

You are invited to share the information in this newsletter with your friends, family, and other contacts. Also, please direct to our website anyone who may be interested in the issues we cover and would like to be added to our mailing list. Visit: https://www.democracyaction.org.nz/about

The link to our Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/DemocracyAction/

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 [email protected]

And please help spread the message by sharing our newsletters with anyone who may be interested. You can receive further updates by registering or joining us.

Kind regards,

Susan Short

[email protected]

Government legislates away a democratic right

“Labour will ensure that major decisions about local democracy involve full participation of the local population from the outset.”  So pledged the Labour Party during the 2020 election campaign. Just four months later they have broken this promise in spectacular fashion, passing under urgency the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act - thereby abolishing the right of local communities to petition for a referendum on Maori wards or constituencies. Continue reading

Have your say on Waiheke Island rāhui

The Ministry of Primary Industries is calling for public submissions on the Ngāti Pāoa imposed rāhui around Waiheke Island. The closing date for submissions is Monday 22 March 2021. The ban relates to the harvesting of four species of kaimoana - i.e. scallops, mussels, crayfish and pāua - the aim being to restore their declining numbers. Continue reading

New history curriculum - thumbs down from some

The Government has recently released their draft New Zealand history curriculum, which has been circulated for public feedback. The main themes include the arrival of Māori, early colonial history, the Treaty of Waitangi, the New Zealand wars, and New Zealand's role in the Pacific. Continue reading

The cancelling of Dr Michael Bassett

'If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticise.' Voltaire. Up until recent times, New Zealand has had an enviable international reputation for upholding the right to freedom of expression. But this status is fast evaporating under the recent push toward censorship – or, in the current euphemism, “no-platforming” or “de-platforming” - of dissenting views. Continue reading