< December 2019 newsletter

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.

Additionally, last week the Government signalled it will not change the law to prevent Maori wards being subject to referenda. The Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta cited the makeup of the coalition Govt not being supportive of a law change.

Messages of appreciation to NZ First MPs for protecting the integrity of our democracy would not go amiss.

The news engendered a sour grape response from the sponsor of the Bill seeking to entrench the Māori seats, Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene. He accused New Zealand First and National of pandering to anti-treaty rights group Hobson’s Pledge. However, this accusation misrepresents the view of Hobson’s Pledge in relation to the Treaty. As Don Brash writes in Hobson's not "an anti-Treaty rights" group, “Far from being an “anti-treaty rights group”, Hobson’s Pledge contends that the Treaty of Waitangi was an extraordinary document for its time in guaranteeing equal rights to all New Zealanders”. Don’s statement was reiterated in an interview with Waatea News on 9th December. It is available here: https://www.waateanews.com/uma/play_podcast/x_podlink/ODMxMzQ=/

Media Coverage

WaateaNews: No change to Maori seat veto

WaateaNews: NZ First death knell for Tirikatene Bill

WaateaNews: Maori ward inaction decried by Maori Party

However, on the other hand………..

Renewed call for local body seats dedicated to Māori

Despite many councils taking steps to include Māori at the decision-making table, TV1 reported recently that there is growing support from Māoridom to legislate Māori seats in local Government. A submission calling for changes in the way Māori participate in New Zealand's local government elections is to be presented to the Tai Tokerau Maori Advisory Committee on Thursday 12 December. The submitter, Rihari Dargaville, wants it adopted nationally by Local Government New Zealand and the Minister for Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta.

Media coverage

1 News Now: Lack of Māori being voted onto local body councils called out as racism

RNZ: Call for statutory Māori seats in local government to increase representation

Mike Hosking: Leave democracy alone!

Well known broadcaster Mike Hosking responds to the calls for Maori seats on local bodies by making a plea to leave democracy alone:

 “Democracy is not perfect. But it beats no democracy and it certainly beats trying to gerrymander it to suit your political purposes”.

To read Mike’s commentary published by the NZ Herald, ‘Why are we messing with democracy?’ please click HERE

Go back to the December 2019 newsletter


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

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