< May 2021 newsletter


TAURANGA CITIZENS TO BE FURTHER DISENFRANCHISED

The anti-democratic madness continues apace in Tauranga. Following the Government-appointed Commissioners recent decision to establish a Māori ward, they have also agreed to a new committee – the Strategy, Finance and Risk Committee - which embodies the 'Treaty partnership', but goes further than that, effectively shutting out the wider community.

 The committee will consist of the following membership:

  • four commissioners with the Commission Chair appointed as the Chairperson of the committee
  • the Chairperson of Te Rangapū Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana
  • three tangata whenua representatives (recommended by Te Rangapū Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana and appointed by Council)
  • an independent external person appointed by the Council

The tangata whenua representatives and the independent external person are to have voting rights as do the Commissioners. The Chairperson of Te Rangapu Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana is an advisory position, without voting rights, designed to ensure mana whenua discussions are connected to the committee.

Under this arrangement 82% of Tauranga citizens are to have no representation at all on this influential committee which will be dealing with matters that directly affect the entire community. Besides dealing with finance and risk, the role includes reviewing and determining the policy and bylaw framework that will assist in achieving the strategic priorities and outcomes for the Tauranga City Council.

The report accompanying the recommendation admits that the undemocratic structure of the committee could give cause to doubt its legitimacy in the eyes of the community:

“Affording voting rights to four of the five external representatives on the SFRC creates a situation where there is an equal number of external representatives with voting rights as the Commissioners. There is a risk that this could be perceived by members of the public as a shift in the balance of power away from the Commission to external people who are neither elected nor appointed by the Minister of Local Government”.

There has been no engagement with the wider community at all 

To add insult to injury, the Council did not bother to consult Tauranga citizens on this radical departure from accepted governance practices. The first time this proposal came to the attention of the public was when the agenda was posted online just four days before the meeting of 27 April – the day before a long weekend. Indeed, the recommendations include the following statement: “There is no requirement to engage or consult with the public about the governance structure. Taking into consideration the above assessment, that the decision is of low significance, officers are of the opinion that no further engagement is required prior to Council making a decision”.

This makes it blatantly obvious that the powers-that-be have absolutely no regard for, or interest in, the opinions of ‘the SILENCED majority’, and brings into sharp relief what is happening in other areas of Government policy.

For more information about the Strategy, Finance and Risk Committee see from p.23 of the Ordinary Council Meeting Tuesday, 27 April 2021 agenda by clicking HERE.

Media coverage

NZ Herald Tauranga Council commissioners vote to establish Māori ward

Newshub: ACT's David Seymour compares Labour to Communist China after Tauranga commissioners vote for Māori ward

Local Government review begins this week

The structure of this committee is far from fair to the people of Tauranga – they have effectively been shut out.  This does not bode well for the outcome of the Local Government review commencing this month, especially taking into account that the Minister - the same one who appointed the commissioners for Tauranga - is seeking recommendations to achieve “a local government system that actively embodies the Treaty partnership, through the role and representation of iwi/Māori in local government, and seeks to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and its principles through its functions and processes”.

See more on the Department of Internal Affairs website at: The Future for Local Government

Media releases/coverage

Nanaia Mahuta: Independent review to explore future for local government

Point of Order: Overhaul ahead for local authorities and their governance

Go back to the May 2021 newsletter


RELATED ARTICLES


Māori wards update - May

Even though time and time again referenda have shown that most New Zealanders are opposed to race-based voting systems, 24 local authorities have recently either made the decision to proceed with Māori wards or have indicated an intention to do so. In addition to those mentioned in the April edition of the Democracy Action newsletter, the following have voted to proceed down this path: Continue reading

The cost to ratepayers of implementing the partnership principle

Photo: Penny Smart, Chair of Northland Regional Council The partnership-with-iwi provisions are creating significant cost pressures for councils. This includes large and on-going costs associated with implementing and maintaining the variety of ways Iwi/Māori are involved in local government and contribute to council decision making. Continue reading

Further Councils Considering Establishing Māori Wards

Councils: Waipa, Hawke’s Bay, Horizons, Horowhenua, Hamilton As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, the new Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act 2021 extended the deadline for councils to consider Māori wards for the 2022 triennial local government elections to 21 May 2021. This has brought forward a flurry of proposals and votes.  Continue reading

Government legislates away a democratic right

“Labour will ensure that major decisions about local democracy involve full participation of the local population from the outset.”  So pledged the Labour Party during the 2020 election campaign. Just four months later they have broken this promise in spectacular fashion, passing under urgency the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act - thereby abolishing the right of local communities to petition for a referendum on Maori wards or constituencies. Continue reading

Step by step, the undermining of democracy continues……….

Maori wards are not the only avenue for separate local government representation for Māori. Continue reading

No respect for democracy - Government to muzzle citizens

In a shock announcement, the Government reveals it intends to use the extraordinary powers reserved for use when the nation is under threat to get rid of legislation that enables referenda on Māori wards. 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

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.  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