< March 2022 newsletter


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.

Most of those speaking in opposition highlighted the undemocratic nature of the bill. But it appears such claims do not phase Ngāi Tahu. In a Stuff media report last month, when it was pointed out to Liz Brown, speaking for Ngāi Tahu, that it was not democratic to legislate tribal representation for local governance, and that mana whenua could be elected via the usual process, she argued that this is a problem. She explained that if a Ngāi Tahu person is elected to the council they become a representative of their constituency – not of the tribe – meaning that person has to be partial to the views of the populous they represent.

Ms Brown also commented about the appointment process, which would involve advertising the positions to the membership of the relevant Papatipu Rūnanga, taking applications and conducting interviews with a panel of leaders from four of those rūnanga.

“I would also like to question, why does our system have to look exactly the same as their system? Tino rangatiratanga looks like us being able to determine that for ourselves,” Brown said.

Under this Government, those pushing for a dual governed New Zealand have become increasingly emboldened. No longer is the end game hidden. This was revealed in the oral submission made to the committee by Ms Brown on behalf of Ngāi Tahu. The Chair of the Committee, Tamati Coffey, asked Ms Brown why Ngāi Tahu were only seeking two positions on the council and not more. Coffey asked, “Why didn’t you go, was there any consideration about flipping the coin and actually going for partnership, going for 50/50 or something a bit bolder than just two positions at the table”.

Ms Brown replied that this is their aspiration in the future and see this bill as a first step, saying this is a model to take it even further in a few years’ time,

“…. eventually we are talking co-governance, we are actually talking co-government into the future too but that's for another day and another discussion”.

You can read more about this submission on the MP for Southland Joseph Mooney’s Facebook page HERE.

The Democracy Action submission was one of 1700 written submissions received by the Government. You can see a video recording of our oral submission HERE.

Go back to the March 2022 newsletter


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