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.
Māori citizens make up 11% of the total Auckland population, by no means all of whom are registered on the Māori roll. According to a council report there are 114,900 voters on the Māori roll, and 1.6 million voters on the general roll.
The Māori representation in local government agenda item was in response to a resolution passed in December 2021, when the Governing Body determined that their preferred model for dedicated Māori representation was to align to the Local Electoral (Māori Representation) Amendment Act 2021. This is based on the parliamentary model, which would provide for one Māori ward if the council moved up to 21 seats. However, at the instigation of the Auckland Council/Independent Māori Statutory Board Joint Working Group, also on the table for consideration is the recommendation put forward by the Royal Commission when the supercity was established. This would allow for three dedicated seats - two elected by those on the Māori roll, and one appointed by mana whenua.
Additionally, a proposal for dedicated Māori representation on the Local Boards is being considered, which comes at the request of some of the Boards themselves.
Mayor Goff was explicit that such issues were not up for discussion at this meeting, and that they were only making a decision about the timeline for further work. That meant that issues such as the future of the Independent Māori Statutory Board were not up for debate. In response to questioning by Cr. Walker, the meeting was told that this matter was out-of-scope. See HERE for a recording of the discussion.
The further work mentioned by Mayor Goff takes the form of engaging with Māori, (and only Māori), i.e., mana whenua and mātāawaka, (Māori living in the Auckland region who are not mana whenua). This is taking place from April to June, with a report due in August, prior to the council adopting a final position.
When Councillor John Watson asked if there was any intention to undertake broader public consultation, he was told that there may be the opportunity for the public to have a say when the Government’s Omnibus Bill is made publicly available. (This Bill will remove the set number of twenty councillors on the Auckland Council Governing Body, thereby making the introduction of Māori wards possible).
After receiving feedback from mana whenua, mātāawaka and the local boards, the governing body will then consider a draft submission on the Omnibus Bill. Again, no sign of any intention by the council to consult directly with the wider community.
The resolution to commence consultation with mana whenua and mātāawaka from April - July, with a report back to the Governing Body in August, was passed with a vote of 14:5. Who voted for or against the motion is recorded below:
Mayor P Goff
|Cr G Sayers
Cr D Simpson (against clause a)
Cr S Stewart
Cr W Walker
Cr J Watson
|Cr D Newman
Cr C Fletcher
The minutes of the meeting are available HERE
Independent Māori Statutory Board
When the supercity was established in 2009, the question of dedicated Māori representation on the council was considered.
The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance had proposed three dedicated Māori seats - two elected by those on the Māori roll, and one appointed by mana whenua. In the end, the idea was scrapped, and at the suggestion of Māori Party member Pita Sharples, the ‘Independent Māori Statutory Board’ was established instead. This board is made up of nine members appointed by mana whenua, who in turn appoint two members to sit on all council committees except for the governing body. Although the legislation does not require it, Auckland Council has extended them full voting rights on these committees alongside our democratically elected members.