Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Geoffrey Churchman: Mayoral virtue signaling costs ratepayers another $45K for the rest of this triennium; maybe $400K+ next triennium

According to Kapiti Coast District Council propaganda issued today:

We’ve taken a significant step to strengthening the voice of Mana Whenua in decision-making, by enhancing iwi representation in the Council’s governance structure.
Council has agreed to appoint one representative from each of our three iwi Mana Whenua partners (Ngāti Toa Rangātira, Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki and Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai Charitable Trust) to the Council’s Strategy and Operations Committee, Appeals Hearing Committee, and the Grants Allocation Subcommittee from 1 July 2022, with full voting rights. Iwi representatives will also be invited to participate in all Council meetings but will not have voting rights there.
This will lead to better decision-making, and supports the commitment made when setting down the Council’s Long-term Plan 2021–41 for Mana Whenua and Council to have a mutually mana-enhancing partnership. It also honours the Crown’s Treaty obligations.

All this is crap and they know it.

What they have actually done is add more members to council committees which will be nominated from the 3 iwi mentioned — the actual numbers are given in the following table from last Tuesday’s council agenda: 

                 Council Agenda 7 June 2022              Click images to view

But there’s more: they get to sit at the full council table with speaking rights (but not voting rights which would be illegal for unelected members).

                                Click image to view

At present Community Board representatives, 1 from each (usually the Chairs, but sometimes the deputies) have speaking but not voting rights at the council table — thus a potential 15 persons present; now that total goes to 18.

Community Board members are elected by the public; their Chairs are decided by the CB members, usually at the outset of each triennium.

The extra iwi representatives from the iwi will be appointed by the iwi, the public will have no say, and neither will the councilors under this.

Appointments to Council committees are often made by their councilor members when there is a shortfall in expertise, but the merits of each nominee are debated and decided by the councilors. This is invariably done in public-excluded to allow councilors to say what they think about each without recriminations.

Now the iwi get to appoint the extra members with no say by the councilors. Even that in itself wouldn’t be too much of a problem if they didn’t have voting rights, but under this, that’s what they get.

It only seems to be the Audit and Risk Committee where the council seems to accept that only 1 iwi appointee is ample and that a formal recruitment and selection process should happen. This chosen person will get paid separately, but one assumes he/she still needs to belong to one of the three iwi stated.

What is the reasoning behind this?

The last sentence in the propaganda quoted repeats the argument used by cultural Marxists and Maori radicals, including those in the Jacinda government, and plenty has been said on here by experts demonstrating that is not the case: the Treaty of Waitangi gave Maori equal rights but not special rights. The whole basis of democracy requires one person, one vote; not some people getting two votes or a disproportionately powerful vote.

But have the councilors who voted for this thought it through?

There are two major problems:

1. Conflict of Interest. A member is expected to declare a conflict of interest and abstain from discussion and voting on an issue where they are perceived to have a conflict of interest. This means, for example, that members of the Grants Allocations Committee will not be able to vote to award their iwi grants that benefit them and not the public as a whole.

2. The three ‘mandated’ iwi in Kapiti only represent 15% of Maori on the Kapiti Coast. So who represents the other 85%? One major unmandated iwi is Ngatiawa ki Kapiti and at the top left of this page is a document that’s been there for while which details the historic and ongoing dispute between them and Ngati Toa (in particular).

As was stated in the previous post on this, some Maori in Kapiti are appalled. Apihaka Mack (pictured) of Ngatiawa ki Kapiti tells us: “We’re unhappy, that’s for sure; that arrangement is ridiculous.”

Is a full Councilor salary for each iwi appointment reasonable?

As a Community Board member in Waikanae I can remember feeling that the (then) salary of $8,000 a year was paltry for the time spent and worked out well below the minimum wage. Are the iwi appointees going to work as many hours as the Councilors? If so it would be fair, but I have big doubts that will be the case. It needs to be remembered that quite a bit of councilor time is taken up in briefings, seminars and workshops on the full range of matters that councils partake in, much of it required by Central Government bureaucracy,

The cost to Ratepayers of this decision for the rest of this triennium will be about one third of the $136,000 annualised cost. If the next council which takes office at the end of October continue this set-up then it will be that times 3 years = $408,000 with periodic increases no doubt.

Why was the present mayor pushing it?

My take on it is that he has his eye on an appointment to one of Mahuta/Jackson’s many ministries, or maybe even elevation to the Race Relations Commissioner. Although of Malaysian origin himself, demonstrating support for the Jacinda government’s racial beliefs and practices is an ideal way to advance that ambition.

Geoffrey Churchman is a retired publisher and co-editor of the Waikanae Watch blog site. This article was first published HERE

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