< October 2020 newsletter


Mayors seek law change to thwart citizens’ right to have a say on Māori wards

Every six years local bodies are obliged to review the ward system. We have seen a flurry of such activity over the past few months, with both New Plymouth and Tauranga acting to establish Māori wards, and others considering whether to follow suit. 

Some councils, such as Nelson and Waipā, voted against pursuing a Māori ward because of the prospect of having the decision voted down by the community. Instead, they are seeking a law change to thwart citizens’ right to have a say on whether they support Māori wards. Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese is to write to the Local Government Minister, asking for a change to the 2001 Local Electoral Act to remove this protection of what she calls a “discriminatory piece of legislation”.

Waipā District Council has opted instead to appoint iwi representatives – with voting rights - to each of its four committees, but Mayor Jim Mylchreest is reported as saying he hopes legislation will change to make it easier to introduce Māori wards in the near future.

N.B. Waipā District Council recently budgeted 8%, (i.e. more than $2M), of its shovel-ready projects for iwi engagement.

Bruce Moon, in his opinion piece Democracy in Peril, points out that “There are constitutional issues here in which the public voice has a fundamental right to be heard. The existing poll right with respect to a Maori ward is a constitutional right of all New Zealanders and any attempt to remove it should properly be put to a national referendum”.

And:

“We may ignore these danger signs at our peril or very soon we shall find ourselves accelerating down that slippery slope which already the Government’s fake “partnership” is propelling us until the day comes when the concepts of universal and equal suffrage are but a distant memory”

Too right, Bruce!

Media coverage

Stuff: Pressure on for law change to introduce Māori wards to councils 

Stuff: Why it appears Kiwis won't stand for Māori wards

Taranaki Daily News: Kaumātua repeatedly criticises Taranaki regional councillors at meeting over previous decision on Māori seat

Stuff: Greater Wellington Regional Council to discuss a Māori seat at its top table

Dominion Post: Māori representation on Wellington council a step closer

The Wanaka Sun: No Māori ward for Queenstown Lakes

Taranaki Daily News: Stratford council to start conversations with iwi after delaying Māori representation decision

Go back to the October 2020 newsletter


RELATED ARTICLES


Campaign to overturn direct democracy hots up

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is vowing to remove the public poll option when councils vote to create Māori wards. Mahuta, who retained the portfolio after the October general election, said she was "all ready to go once the government is formed". Continue reading

We want a vote on Māori wards!

The Local Electoral Act’s binding poll system is a form of direct democracy that enables local electors to choose for themselves by simple majority vote whether or not they support race-based council representation. However, to trigger a poll 5 percent of electors must support a petition to hold the referendum. Campaigns to do so have already started in several regions. Please offer your support and encouragement to those who are standing up for the right to have a say on whether we support designated race-based seats at the council table. Continue reading

Compulsory Māori seats touted for Northland

Northland Māori are making a push for greater representation in local government, renewing calls for local Māori seats. Some say government intervention is necessary and that may include compulsory Māori seats. Pita Tipene of Ngāti Hine laments that local government legislation and processes are "shutting out our people". Continue reading

Citizens Get To Vote On Maori Wards - Congratulations To All Concerned!

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.

LGNZ's Campaign to Abolish the Poll Provision

Local Government NZ (LGNZ) is campaigning vigorously to abolish the sections the Local Electoral Act 2001 which relate to the rules for binding citizens initiated polls concerning the establishment of Maori wards. The members of National Council of LGNZ want its members to be able to impose Maori wards unchecked - thereby depriving members of local communities of an individual democratic right expressly written into law. For a comprehensive and well researched essay on this issue, please click HERE. This essay, authored by Michael Coote - a freelance writer and financial journalist - was published on the NZCPR website on 22nd April. Michael explains what LGNZ is seeking, and the reasons why. Continue reading

Countering The Campaign To Abolish The Poll Provision

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), along with the Green Party and ex-New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd, are agitating to remove those sections of the Local Electoral Act 2001 that allow for electors to vote on whether or not a city, district or region can establish Māori wards. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Maori wards supporters want to overturn the Māori ward poll law

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. Continue reading

More councils adopt racially-selected appointees

Despite constituents strongly opposing separate race-based representation, as shown in referenda held in 2018, the number of councils across New Zealand which have appointed unelected members with voting rights to council committees has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. The following are examples (by no means the total number) of councils who have recently taken the obligation to consult with Māori to an undemocratic level: Continue reading

Yahoo! A double win for democracy

We end the year with the welcome news that the bill making it harder to remove the Māori seats from Parliament has been voted down at the second reading, with New Zealand First opposing the change. Only Labour and the Green Party supported the legislation. The bill cleared its first hurdle in Parliament last year with the unlikely support of New Zealand First, which opposes the Māori seats. The party wanted to use the bill as a vehicle to hold a two-part referendum on the seats, asking whether they should be entrenched or done away with altogether. But no referendum was added after the select committee stage. Continue reading

Local Body Elections 2019

The Democracy Action working group is preparing a set of questions to ask candidates. Please take the opportunity to call radio shows with guest candidates, and attend public meetings, to ask a question or two. Continue reading

The undermining of our democracy continues apace

Please see below some examples from around the country: Earlier this year the Minister of Conservation signed a partnership agreement between the ministry, DOC and Auckland iwi Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, to share in the management of natural resources, and cultural and historical heritage. Ngai Tai ki Tamaki’s role is that of guardians and stewards. They are seeking to establish an ‘iwi conservancy’ over land and taonga species. They are based at Umupuia, just south of Maraetai, on the shores of the Hauraki Gulf. Yet they claim an area of interest, and therefore influence, that stretches from north of Auckland, down to Tauranga, including the whole of the Coromandel Peninsula; much of the Manukau Harbour in the west, and out past Gt. Barrier Island in the east, as shown below. Continue reading

‘Partnership’ - a way of heading off costly litigation?

Last month we reported on the Horizons Regional Council vote to create a committee of councillors and iwi leaders to come up with strategies for managing Manawatū waterways. Continue reading

Auckland Plan 2050 Adopted – With The Anti-Democratic Provisions

The Auckland Plan 2050, the long-term strategy for Auckland’s growth and development, and which provides a framework to inform decisions, has been adopted by Auckland Council. Continue reading

Implementation of Treaty settlements creating significant cost pressures

The Waikato Regional Council’s draft submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Local Government Funding and Financing reveals that the implementation of Treaty of Waitangi settlements creates significant cost pressures for Council. The submission states that “the Council wishes to work with its iwi partners in partnership but notes that the costs to do so is significant to its ratepayers”. Continue reading

Hastings District Council joins the Hall of Shame

A big thank you to those who contacted Hasting District councillors to encourage them to vote against the proposal to enable four members of the Maori Joint Committee to sit and vote on the council’s four standing committees. Unfortunately, enough councillors (10-4) felt able to turn their back on democracy by appointing unelected Maori to all committees.  Continue reading

Good News - designated seats for Ngāi Tahu voted down

New Zealand First has scuppered Labour's bid to give Ngāi Tahu permanent seats on the Canterbury Regional Council, saying its special treatment for Māori. Shane Jones acknowledged the party's long-held position against separate seats for Māori on local body councils. Continue reading

Auckland Council’s ‘Our Water Future’ - Remember to have your say

Auckland Council recently released a discussion document on developing ‘a water strategy to ensure a secure, sustainable, and healthy future for water in Auckland’. We covered this issue in the March update, but to briefly recap, as to the advancement of a co-governance agenda, concerns centre on the following statements: Continue reading

The Waikato District Council Blueprint Project

It appears every act of special entitlement is simply used as a stepping stone to further power. We see an example of this in the Waikato District Council’s Blueprint project, with its pitch to build on the Joint Management Agreements and other agreements with iwi, and the proposal to appoint a ‘Maori Partnership Manager’ “to sit with the CE group, which will, appropriately, facilitate a “chief to chief” relationship” – with the assistance of an operational support person. There are only a few days left to have provide feedback. Go online to have your say by 5pm Monday 8 April. Continue reading

Time to Vote - Local Body Elections 2019

Voting in local body elections is under way, with the poll closing noon 12 October. With the push for co-governance and partnership arrangements gathering speed, there’s a lot riding on our choices this election. The next three years will make a huge difference to our future. Continue reading

Vote for me! Local body elections 2019

The upcoming election gives us the opportunity to voice our opinions, to hold elected representatives to account, and to vote for what we believe in. So please take all opportunities to question those standing for office. You could also identify those candidates you can support and offer your help as they campaign. We at Democracy Action believe our representatives should be voted on merit, not race. As Gisborne Herald columnist, farmer, community worker, and heritage consultant Mr Clive Bibby writes in his article 'Diversity best achieved naturally'  “The majority of people do not judge by colour, religion, age, sex or disability. They judge you by what you believe in, what you hope to do, what you bring to the table, whether you will work hard for them and represent their voices at the council or health board table.”     Continue reading