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.
The proposed model is not only unfair, it is also unlawful. Clause 2 of Schedule 1A of the Local Electoral Act requires representation from wards to be proportional to their electoral populations.
However, undeterred by their ‘ideal’ arrangement being outside the law, the Council is now promoting a local Bill - the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill 2022 – which seeks an exemption from current legislative requirements that prevent Council adopting this model. The Bill was introduced to Parliament on Tuesday 29 March and had its first reading yesterday, Wednesday 6 April. You can view the debate HERE.
This proposed law change made Sky News Australia Tuesday night (April 5). Andrew Bolt interviewed David Farrar of Kiwiblog, seemingly incredulous that New Zealand would go down the path of throwing out one person one vote, so fundamental to a democratic society. You can watch the interview HERE.
Make a submission on the Bill
You have only 13 days to make a submission - the opportunity closes at 11.59pm on 20 April 2022.
Petition launched against the Bill
Dr Reynold Macpherson, the chair of Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers and a Rotorua Councillor, has launched a petition to request that the House of Representatives vote down the Bill.
Reynold explains the reason for the petition:
“What is being proposed violates the right to equal suffrage stated in the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990; equal suffrage means giving all voters equal voting power; giving people living in Rotorua who are on the Māori roll the same number of ward seats as those on the general roll would give those on the Māori roll over 2.6 times the voting power of those on the general roll; representation from wards should be proportionate to electoral populations”.
Please sign the petition and encourage others to do so too. There is a very real danger that this undemocratic arrangement will be replicated throughout NZ if it is given the go ahead.
The link to the petition is HERE.
In the interim, the Council has decided to adopt a ward structure with one Māori ward seat, one general ward seat and eight at-large seats. This model likewise violates citizens’ democratic and civil rights to equal suffrage. It is currently before the Local Government Commission, which recently heard appellants to the Council’s decision and can overturn it. You can see a video recording of Reynold’s presentation to the Commission HERE. And his opinion piece published in the Rotorua Daily Post ‘The argument against co-governance replacing democracy’
A link to a video recording of the entire hearing is available HERE
“Protect our democracy” - citizens take to the streets
Incensed that the council is riding roughshod over its citizens to achieve its objective of iwi co-governance, a group gathered outside the Council buildings the day before the Commission began its hearings. Demonstration organiser, Jo-Anne La Grouw, said that the council was "blatantly ignoring the overwhelming message from ratepayers that they do not accept race-based decisions".
"Co-governance is basically the antithesis of democracy… the minority ruling over the majority."