Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Clive Bibby: Equality of opportunity

Equality of opportunity is more important than a gerrymandered access to a seat at the Council table.  

Much of the public row being fought in local communities about indigenous rights to representation at the Council table is an irritant that will probably be a short term distraction that will end as quickly as it started even in provinces where those claiming Maori ancestry have a numerical advantage on both rolls.

Once the law governing local body elections is redrafted allowing things to return to the way they were before 2021, a full electoral vote will be required before a Council can introduce Maori Wards although those that are already in place will have a stay of execution until the 2028 local body elections.

So a little crystal ball gazing - what could happen next.

The reason l am confident that many Councils will have to give up their Maori wards when the vote to endorse them is taken, is actually little to do with any pakeha backlash against the undemocratic process used by the previous government to establish them.

From my discussions with many intelligent Maori voters (that’s most of them), l am getting the message that they see the establishment of Maori wards as an embarrassing development. It suggests that Maori are less able to use the democratic systems in place to achieve their aspirational goals than their pakeha counterpart.

Naturally, many feel insulted by the special treatment and see it at best - a patronising response to a non existent problem.

Many of them would not have voted for their introduction - certainly not for the numbers of wards that currently make a mockery of the democratic process, if they had been given the choice.

They say that the old system was sufficient to allow any person wanting to represent Maoridom exclusively to stand on that platform and be elected with majorities that reflected their status in the community as a whole. In other words the old system was perfectly capable of electing even a Maori majority if the candidates who chose to identify as such were able to convince enough voters they were worthy of their vote.

And as a consequence history tells us that a number of Maori candidates have successfully campaigned on the general roll at least in this Rohe - some of them repeatedly receiving the highest majorities - the current deputy mayor being one in that category.

So it is a fallacy that Maori need this debauched form of affirmative action in order for them to gain access to the Council table.

Our local body elections has a history of choosing candidates who the electorate considers are most capable of representing them.

As one who has unsuccessfully offered his name to the mix of candidates on more than one occasion, l am happy that the vote was always conducted in a fair and proper manner. I have no quarrel with the process which gave me equal opportunity to serve the community in a different way to what l have been doing. Neither will l have any regrets that on those occasions, l did not succeed.

The most important thing upon which to reflect is that l was as able as the next man to take advantage of an opportunity that was available to me.

 Nobody can complain that this type of level playing field is not open to them, irrespective of race, political or sexual preference or personal standing on the social ladder. It is and should have always been over to us.

Food for thought.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.


Robert Arthur said...

The East Cape area, where most persons know or of most others and where most are familiar with large doses of both cultures is not representative of MZ. And I suspect Clive is being told what they think he would like to hear. What the real attitude is at the local insurgency centres (marae) espaecially after stir ups by the ilk of Motu and Sykes is likely another matter. Saparatism is still in its infancy and many maori are sufficently shrewd to not yet display their true goals, unlike Waititi and his rabid colleagues.

Tom Logan said...

Mr Arthur, given Mr Bibby's long and deep involvement with the rural East Coast and his many contributions to that society and its people, I would have thought he was particularly well suited to commenting on the voting intentions of those people.

And since the Waititi and his rabid colleagues won such a tiny percentage of the Maori vote ,I like Mr Bibby can't see a Maori uprising hiding under every fern frond.

I thought Mr Bibby's article was very generous and enlightening in its comment on the voting intentions of the Maori voters and our electoral system in general.

I do thing Mr Bibby's analysis of NZ politics rather than American may well be his strong suite.