There are many cogent and valid reasons why they must vote against this undemocratic aberration.
Race-based wards should not be brought in at the whim of Councillors, any decision should only be made after full public consultation including submissions and most recent polls show that constituents do not want these wards with an average 75% no vote against them. Why then would Council spend (waste) around $200,000 on a referendum when the result looks like a foregone conclusion based on past experience.
If unelected by the public at large, any separate Maori representation in local government subverts New Zealand’s one-person-one-vote democracy that is based solely on citizenship, not ethnicity thereby undermining our tried and true democracy. And a major downside is Maori voters will be locked in – Maori, on the Maori electoral roll would compulsorily have to vote for Maori ward candidates only, as they cannot participate in the general public vote also.
Any race based Councillors inherently will be focused on securing entitlements for local maori interests, not the interests of the wider community as a whole and that is wrong. Those with maori ancestry are members of our community and not a separate entity which require anything different from Council, than what all other citizens receive, such as roads, clean drinking water, sewerage, drainage/stormwater, parks and reserves, libraries, sports facilities, pools, and community centres etc. which everyone benefits from.
Maori wards imply that those with some Maori ancestry are incapable of achieving without race-based favouritism, therefore insults this group of people who can achieve positions in governance, evidenced by an over representation in Parliament compared to the population percentage of 16.5% who claim maori heritage as currently 20 percent (23) of MPs in Parliament are of Maori descent (the figure was 23 percent in 2017).
Maori people are capable of standing for and winning general seats and when they do they usually contribute significantly to governance.
In any event what special skills or knowledge etc can these people bring to the table particularly when many have more other ancestry than their Maori ethnicity.
The 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi does not state nor even imply race-based representation in governance (Local or Central) – however it does state and record the ceding of sovereignty and granting Maori all the rights and privileges of British subjects (now New Zealanders).
Wrapping up, to avoid a state of racial segregation
Governance must be based solely on citizenship, not ethnicity, there must be no
preferment for any individual or group based on ethnicity, religion or culture
- matters of governance are entirely separate, except for the basic right of
freedom of expression and belief. Special privileges based on ancestry or
ethnicity are discriminatory, tribal and archaic, they divide families,
neighbours and communities – we must have one set of rules for all Kiwis
regardless of ancestry or ethnicity and anything else is apartheid.
Perhaps it is time for Northlanders to have a chat with incumbent Councillors and let them know that Governance should be elected on merit and not ethnicity.
Geoff Parker is a passionate advocate for equal rights and a colour blind society.