Friday, April 18, 2014

Mike Butler: Iwi lose New Plymouth vote battle

Tribalists lost the latest battle in the war for separate Maori representation on Tuesday when the New Plymouth District Council voted against a proposal that would have seen iwi representatives appointed to standing committees with full voting rights. Proponents of such set-ups either don’t understand or don’t care that extra race-based representation is one quick way to destroy our basic right as citizens of one person one vote.

Moreover, proponents cite “treaty partnership” as a justification without either knowing or caring that references to claimed partnership only go back to 1989, when Sir Geoffrey Palmer opined that the treaty principle of co-operation could mean “the outcome of reasonable cooperation will be partnership”.

Whatever the outcome, there will be no winners in this war. Our political system is based on citizenship, not ethnicity. Any move to install race-based representation will alienate those who hold to the one-person-one-vote principle and any move to oppose it will make tribalists feel marginalized.

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd brought a proposal which would have seen representatives from Ngati Tama, Ngati Mutunga, Te Atiawa, Ngati Maru, and other Taranaki tribes appointed to standing committees to the table after speaking with various elders. (1)

Judd, deputy mayor Heather Dodunski and councillors Gordon Brown, Howie Tamati and Marie Pearce voted in favour of the proposal. Councillors Keith Allum, Murray Chong, Shaun Biesiek, Grant Coward, John McLeod, Richard Jordan and Colin Johnston voted against it. Councillors Richard Handley, Len Houwers and Craig McFarlane were absent.

Councillors reported extreme pressure from tribalists and from those who opposed the move both in New Plymouth and around New Zealand.

Te Atiawa representative Peter Moeahu called for Government intervention. "It is of grave concern when New Plymouth councillors deliberately act contrary to local government law and spit in the face of iwi, the Crown's treaty partner," Moeahu said.

"The law is clear: Council has a legal obligation to engage with iwi. They refuse to do so. I am in Wellington next week and will raise this issue with government officials. I expect other iwi of north Taranaki may do the same."

As an aside, history buffs would know that another Te Atiawa person, Wiremu Kingi, started the armed uprisings of the 1860s at Waitara, 15km northeast of New Plymouth, on March 17, 1860.

Separate Maori representation in local government has existed since 2001, when the Environment Bay of Plenty regional council established three Maori seats according to the terms of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Act 2001.

Maori representation on the proposed Auckland super city became controversial in 2009. The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommended that two Maori members should be elected to the Auckland Council by voters who are on the parliamentary Maori Electoral Roll, and that there should be a “mana whenua” forum, the members of which would be appointed by mana whenua from the district of the Auckland Council.

That proposal did not eventuate. In the end, central government imposed a Maori statutory board to be appointed by the Maori Affairs Department but paid for by Auckland ratepayers.

Human Rights Commissioner Joris De Bres wrote to all councils, in 2011, asking them to consider the question of Maori seats in their three-yearly representation review. In response, of 78 councils nationwide, 49 told De Bres that they had already considered the Maori seats option but had not taken it any further, and three councils – the Nelson City Council, the Wairoa District Council, and the Waikato District Council – agreed to start the process of establishing Maori seats.

Affected electors were entitled to demand a poll. When a poll was demanded in Nelson, a 43.4 percent return in May 2012 showed 79.41 percent against the proposal and 20.22 percent for it.

Results at that time of the official poll in Wairoa, which has a large Maori population, showed that of only 47.3 percent of electors who voted, 51.89 percent were against and 47.95 percent for.

A similar poll held by the Waikato District Council, in April 2012, rejected separate Maori representation. Of the 12,762 (30.16 percent) of electors who voted, 10,111 were against the idea, while 2517 favoured it.

New Plymouth councillors have reaffirmed what ratepayers have already shown-- that they do not want separate Maori representation. Whatever the outcome, there will be no winners in this war for race-based representation in local government.

1. Te Atiawa take issue to Crown,


Anonymous said...

Stuff over the last couple of days has been running an online 'Opinion Poll'

The question is > What do you think of the NPDC's decision not to give iwi representation and voting rights?

The numbers this morning were:

Agree 739 - 79%

Disagree 167 - 17.8%

Don't Care 30 - 3.2%

Anonymous said...

The Taranaki Daily News has a poll running 78% in favour of the decision.
Unfortunately the Taranaki Regional Council look like they are going to succumb to the same.

Brian said...

Mike is right...this is a War, an undeclared war but nevertheless a war.
We are either a country which abides by the principal of democratic elections both in central and local government, we vote in people to represent us.
National have attempted to keep the ethnic lid on what is happening, the division of New Zealand by Maori extremists to gain control. But such liberal appeasement never works as the stakes are far to high. So either Maori accept democracy or they do not!
If they continue and are allowed to ferment divisions then the only reasonable solution for us all is partition. No one wants this, certainly not on the non-Maori side, and probably quite a few intelligent Maori as well.
If these extremists prevail, then our very existence is at stake. It is for Government to cease its political appeasement policies and act in the interests of us all.

Trina said...

We will be moving down to Taranaki, so my voice will be firmly added to the oppositions to this push for race based seating in our councils.

NPDC have done the right thing - high fives to them - they have my support!

Anonymous said...

Auckland ratepayers never got the chance to vote on this subject or that of whether we wanted the super city or not. I was foisted on us. Both are a disaster