Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mike Butler: Maori council seats vote petition

Maori wards could be set up on every district council in New Zealand without requiring a public vote, according to a Maori Party petition, which is the latest battle in a 20-year push to get separate voting into local government.

Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell will present a petition to Parliament at the urging of New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd, who championed a Maori ward in his city - a move blocked by a public vote last year.

The process for setting up a Maori ward is detailed in Section 19Z of the Local Electoral Act 2001. Currently, whenever a territorial authority of regional council resolves to establish either Maori wards or constituencies respectively, the intention must be publicly notified and residents may exercise the right to demand a poll.

Flavell’s petition calls for a law change drop the poll by establishing Maori wards using rules similar to those for setting up other local government wards, as detailed in Section 19V of the Act.

New Plymouth residents voted “no” to Judd’s proposal in May 2015 when 83 percent rejected a Maori ward. Turnout was 45 per cent.

A push for separate Maori representation in local government came after the Auckland council amalgamation in 2010 that brought with it the Auckland Maori Statutory Board.

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. Three councils – the Nelson City Council, the Wairoa District Council, and the Waikato District Council –agreed to start the process.

Affected electors demanded polls, and the results of those polls were:
• Wairoa District Council, March 2012, 51.89 percent were against Maori seats. Around 46 percent of the Wairoa population are Maori, well above the national average of around 16 percent. Turnout was 47.3 percent.

• Waikato District Council, April 2012, 79.2 percent opposition. Turnout was 30.16 percent.

• Nelson District Council, May 2012, 79.41 percent opposition. Turnout was 43.4 percent.

• Hauraki District Council, May 2013, 80.4 percent opposition. Turnout was 39.12 percent.

• Far North District Council, March 2015, 68 percent opposition. Turnout was 35 percent. Nearly 44 percent of the Far North District is of Maori
Those keen on separate seats in Rotorua last year tried a different approach by skirting around the requirement for a ratepayer poll through a council-iwi partnership plan.

Despite heavy opposition in more than 1800 written submissions, the Rotorua Lakes Council approved, in May 2015, in an eight-to-five majority, an arrangement in which two representatives nominated by a new elected Te Arawa board would sit on the council's two main committees with voting rights

The National-led government used yet another approach in 2012, by imposing on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council a co-governance agreement written into the 2011 treaty settlement of northern Hawke's Bay tribe Ngati Pahauwera.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson approached the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council with two options. Either set up a co-governance board for each river in the region along the lines of the Waikato River settlement, or, set up a single committee to cover all natural resources in the region. The regional council opted for the latter proposal.

The regional planning committee comprises 10 councillors and 10 iwi appointees with two chairs, one appointed by the council and one by iwi. The appointees are full voting committee members.

The first push for separate representation in local government appeared in 1996, when Environment Bay of Plenty’s joint Maori-council working party proposed legislation to establish a Maori constituency based on the Maori roll to elect three councillors. Submissions showed 760 in favour and 252 against.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Act 2001 prescribed a formula for calculating the number of Maori council members. Environment Bay of Plenty regional council established three Maori seats in 2001.

Now here’s the thing. Flavell said, according to the New Zealand Herald, that mandatory Maori wards on every council would give those with some Maori ancestry better representation at local government, and would better reflect the make-up of communities.

"Everyone is aware of the low participation of Maori in local government and the existing legislation is clearly inadequate," he said.

Yet voter turnout for Environment Bay of Plenty’s three Maori constituencies continued to lag. There are 30,096 electors on the three Maori constituencies, with a total of 7812 Maori constituency votes cast in 2013. Turnout in 2013 was between 20 percent and 32 percent, compared with 2010 turnout of between 27 percent and 41 percent. The general constituency turnout in 2013 was 45.7 percent.

Apparently, the Maori Party petition to get rid of the voter poll as apart of establishing separate Maori wards or constituencies is more to do with grandstanding by Flavell and Judd than improving Maori participation in the electoral process.


Maori Party calls for law change, NZ Herald, April 10, 2016.


Den said...

Now that New Zealand has shucked out his "New Flag" Jonkey is so desperate to be the first 4 term Prime Minister that he will sell New Zealander's rights down the river (pun) with this proposal to give Maori the right to decide who gets water rights AND how much they will pay in "Koha".

Roy Bradbury said...

The Maori community are just a part of the various groups that go to make up this Great Country of New Zealand, and those who wish to become councillors etc. within Local or Central Politics should be required to place themselves forward before the Public at Large, and obtain such Post on a successful vote against all other Applicants for any such Body Elections.

ONZF said...

Before we waste more time on all this rubbish, shouldn't we stop and ask who is this small group of New Zealanders who call themselves Maori or better still tangata whenua.

Professor Ranginui Walker, the past Head of Auckland Maori Studies at Auckland University explained who these boat people of the 14 century were in the "1986 New Zealand Year Book" page 18, “The traditions are quite clear on one point, whenever crew disembarked there were already tangata whenua (prior inhabitants). The canoe ancestors of the 14-century merged with these tangata whenua tribes. From this time on the traditions abound with accounts of tribal wars over land and its resources. Warfare was the means by which tribal boundaries were defined and political relations between tribes established. Out of this period emerged 42 tribal groups whose territories became fixed after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the establishment of Pax Britannica”. (Pax Britanica - British Peace/Law).

It was a known fact in 1840 the boat people of the 14 century were not the tangata whenua when the Rev Henry Williams called them tangata Maori in the Tiriti o Waitangi and over 500 tangata Maori chiefs acknowledge and accepted they were tangata Maori when they signed the Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840.

Since the 1865 Native Land Act Parliament has had to pass many Acts as the tangata Maori ancestry became further and further diluted through intermarriage of their own free will until today they are New Zealand Citizens with varying (some very small)degree of tangata Maori ancestry.

Tangata Maori were a distinct race of people when their chiefs signed the Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840, but today they are a mixed race of New Zealand Citizens that can claim a minute trace of tangata Maori ancestry. Hardly a people that should control our resources!

Anonymous said...

The elephant in the room is that even if the Treaty of Waitangi provides for race-separatist special privilege (it doesn’t!) the “Maori” of today are not the Maori of 1840, but New Zealanders of mixed European-Maori descent who have chosen to identify monoculturally as Maori, elevating one set of ancestors and trampling down another. Yet traditional Maori culture says that one is to honour all ancestors equally.

For many decades now, there has been no discrete or separate Maori ethnic group. All so-called Maori alive today have European ancestry. Indeed, it would be virtually impossible to find a “Maori” who doesn’t possess more of the blood of the colonisers than that of the colonised.

To illustrate this point, prior to the passage of the Electoral Amendment Act 1975, the legal definition of “Maori” for electoral purposes was “a person of the Maori race of New Zealand or a half-caste descendent thereof.” After panicked complaints from its Maori MPs that soon nobody would be eligible for the Maori Roll, the then-Labour Government changed this to read “or any descendent of such a person.”

Under current electoral law, New Zealanders with Maori ancestry can determine once every electoral cycle if they wish to be on the Maori Roll or the General Roll. We thus have a legal definition of “Maori” that defies definition in the Courts, since it is entirely based on an individual’s periodic decision to identify as “Maori.”

Writing in 1972, historian Joan Metge offers a compelling explanation as to why a subset of New Zealanders today might continue see themselves as “Maori.” She states: "New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha, tend to identify others as 'Maori' if they 'look Maori,’ that is if they have brown skin and Polynesian features. Those whose Maori ancestry is not so evident in their appearance are left to make their own choice."

Since the Maori phenotype tends to predominate in a person’s appearance, Many New Zealanders who are considerably less than half-Maori will be identified by others as Maori whether they like it or not. This psychic wound is often compensated for by aggressively embracing a collectivist Maori identity and seeking utu from the majority culture these people feel shut out of.

The psychological roots of Treatyism may well amount to little more than the hurt child looking for someone to punish. The rest of us should not be obliged to validate someone else’s adjustment issues. Nor should public policy support the notion that anyone who is less than half-Maori be regarded as “Maori.” And nor should it dignify their cultural pretensions, particularly with other people’s money.

Anyone who is less than half-Maori claiming to be “Maori” is best described as an “Indigenous Pretender.” The standard response when this is held up is: “Maori will decide who is ‘Maori.’”

In a free society, individuals are at liberty to form groups and combinations for any lawful purpose, and indeed, many choose to do so. There are rugby clubs, bowling clubs, bridge clubs, film clubs, swingers’ clubs, various religious congregations, and any number of other organisations catering to the sporting, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual needs of members.

Individuals of mixed European-Maori descent indeed have every right to identify with Maori culture and affiliate to a [part-] Maori kin group. But since this is a personal choice and thus an entirely private matter, [part-] Maori groups rightly have the same status as any other community group with a voluntary membership, such as a rugby club or a bowling club.

And the same right to demand large sums of money and political patronage from their fellow New Zealanders as the members of a rugby club or bowling club.


ONZF said...

Anonymous said, " And the same right to demand large sums of money and political patronage from their fellow New Zealanders as the members of a rugby club or bowling club".

I don't know of any rugby or bowling club that received $170 million dollars X 2 of taxpayers money or has a Tribunal to prise this money out of government using a document that was never intended for this purpose.