Friday, July 29, 2016

Mike McViicker: Height of Hypocrisy

The announcement that the Rotorua Lakes Council had been successful with its Te Arawa Partnership Project (TAP) in the NZ Local Government Excellence Awards for “the outstanding delivery of best practise value and services to their community” certainly raises some questions.

Firstly, for such an undemocratic change of appointing unelected maori representatives to Council, which resulted in splitting the Rotorua community, and still does today, to win an Excellence Award strikes this writer as hypocritical. Particularly so when you take into account that the majority of Rotorua citizens did not support such a radical break from what had been the norm. (Rotorua Daily Post 68% against).
Granted, there needed to be an improvement in relations between Te Arawa and Council, but for the Mayor, Steve Chadwick, to proceed without any mandate to appoint unelected maori to Council Committee Meetings, with voting rights, was a step too far. Hence the Council experienced the most controversial process of consultation with the community ever; accusations abound - and the Council wins an Excellence Award for significantly dividing our community?

Add to this the fact that this undemocratic process will be the number one issue to be debated in the forthcoming elections, with the possibility that it could be reversed.
It is worth noting here that Te Arawa, a confederation of some 13 Iwi and 60 hapu with around 11,000 members, already had three maori representatives on Council, out of the total of twelve. One could well ask why, and what ulterior motive did the Mayor have to proceed and divide the community as she has.

Then if one reviews the actual Entry Form the Council submitted, there are clearly some ingenuous claims. Firstly the claim that “the project was innovative and original as iwi themselves came up with the model” is patently false. The model was in fact introduced to Councillors in a Council Forum (not confidential) on the 1st May 2014, by the Auckland legal company Atkins Holm Majurey. It was then subsequently introduced to Te Arawa on 6th May. They took many months to fine tune a model that had previously been introduced to the Wellington Regional Council by the same legal company.

As for the comments in its Entry Form regarding “overt acts of racism and threats” are concerned, there is no doubt that both parties were guilty as the whole process involved a highly charged and emotive environment, which again begs the question as to the validity of this very entry for such Excellence Awards.

Whilst there has been a clear drive by the Mayor to promote such undemocratic appointments with other Councils around the country, there does not appear to be much buy-in to date. We all know what happened in New Plymouth with an 86% rejection of maori Wards, and one would not be surprised if the Masterton Mayor will no longer rule after the elections. And of course many people will be watching the outcome in Rotorua with the hope that democracy will be restored here.

Mike McVicar is a fourth term Councillor on the Rotorua Lakes District Council.

1 comment:

paul scott said...

Here I am again. Our only hope for equality of citizenship is a revolution at the ballot box. This social revolution will come because it must. The cardboard cut out Government we have is a derelict.