Latest News

Rotorua Lakes Council pushing for Māori co-governance

The Rotorua Lakes Council no longer believes in one person one vote, each of equal value. Instead, it believes that if you are not Māori, your vote should be worth less. The Council is currently pursuing a law change to enable an undemocratic representation model to be implemented. The model it prefers would consist of three Māori ward seats, three general ward seats, and four at-large seats. However, adopting this arrangement would give the 19,791 citizens on the Māori roll 2.6 times the voting power of the 51,618 citizens on the general roll. Continue reading

Locals campaign to restore democracy at Tauranga City Council

The Government has decided to extend the stay of Tauranga City Council’s commissioners for a further two-and-a-half years. The dissolution of the elected council in February 2021 was always meant to be a temporary emergency measure with full local democracy restored in 2022. However, the Wellington-appointed commissioners asked the Government to delay local elections for at least another year, which the Minister of Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, obligingly extended until July 2024. Continue reading

No intention to consult with Auckland citizens on Māori wards

Auckland Council is about to engage with mana whenua and mātāawaka about the creation of dedicated Māori seats but have made no plans to consult with the wider Auckland community - even though one of the two models under consideration does not comply with the important democratic principle of proportionality. The adoption of one of the models - the recommendation put forward by the Royal Commission when the supercity was established - would allow for three dedicated seats, thereby increasing Māori representation to a level greater than their proportion in the population. Continue reading

Council Codes of Conduct - a tool for muzzling councillors?

Former Prime Minister Sir Bill English described Codes of Conduct as a threat to democracy a good 15 years ago, but we didn't heed his warning. Today they are being used by Councils as a tool to silence our elected representatives - blocking criticism by councillors. This is undermining the democratic process.  Codes of Conduct are designed to ensure the reputation of the Council is upheld within the community. They are not meant to be used as a means of preventing elected members from expressing their views. However, it appears this is happening to an alarming degree. Continue reading

Three Waters update - Mayors still not convinced

It appears the Recommendations Report by the working group set up by the Government to address major national concerns around Three Waters has done nothing to quell the fears of many councils. Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said the working group's recommendations to Government around dealing with the three sticking points of representation, governance and accountability simply made her council more determined in its High Court Three Waters challenge. “Our concerns remain regarding democratic accountability, and ownership rights and responsibilities…….” Continue reading

Three Waters - Government removes vital information from public view

The Water Users’ Group legal challenge to the Government’s Three Waters Reform proposal has met an unexpected snag: “Something strange happened in December after we filed our High Court application for judicial review. Crown Law asked us to redact information that was previously in the public arena,” Stephen Franks writes in a recent communication to supporters of the Water Users’ Group. Continue reading

No place for democracy in Ngāi Tahu grab for political power

Oral submissions on the bill to entrench Ngāi Tahu seats on Environment Canterbury were heard by the Māori Affairs Committee last week – and those who watched the proceedings report that there were considerably more presentations in opposition than those in support. Continue reading

There is literally a huge amount at stake here!

The Government is considering legislative changes in order to fast-track the review of 2.5 million hectares of Crown-owned land known as “stewardship land.” That is around nine per cent of New Zealand’s total land area! The proposed process is set to reduce public scrutiny, and favour those with vested interests. You have until Friday 18 March to have your say. Continue reading

Hauraki Gulf Forum votes on co-governance proposal

Thank you to all who joined the action over at the Gulf Users Group by signing their petition or sending a message to the elected members of the Hauraki Gulf Forum asking them to vote down the proposal to introduce 50/50 co-governance to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. According to the Group, nearly 14,000 people signed the petition in just three weeks, and 2,400 individual emails were sent. Great response! Continue reading

Maunga Trees Safe - For Now

Auckland residents Averil and Warwick Norman have won an appeal against the Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) decision to fell 345 exotic trees on Ōwairaka/Mt Albert. The Court of Appeal found that the TMA’s plan breached the Reserves Act and didn't carry out appropriate consultation with the public. The decision also concluded Auckland Council acted unlawfully by not publicly notifying the tree felling resource consent. Continue reading