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Councillor Backs Local Govt Maori Representation

Maori Councillor Backs Local Government Representation For Maori

A long-standing Maori district councillor is working with Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi to prepare Maori who are interested in entering local government.

Maureen Waaka, who’s an iwi representative for Te Arawa and an elected councillor on the Rotorua District Council, says with new legislation and the advent of local body elections, Maori must gain the skills they need to be involved at a decision-making level in local government.

“I think anyone who is considering a career working in a council or as a political representative should seriously consider the programme. It opens the door for those who may be thinking about becoming involved in local politics but haven’t had the knowledge or confidence to do so.”

She says the issue has become increasingly important since the Bay of Plenty Regional Council agreed to have two new Maori seats on offer at this year's local government elections.

“This is the level of government most likely to affect our daily lives but we need to be confident about the representation we have in local government.”

Mrs Waaka says with that in mind she’s working with Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi to promote the Certificate in Local Governance programme.

The programme, which is offered as a block course from Whakatane and Wellington, equips people with the practical skills and knowledge to work within a local authority. Participants will build their knowledge of laws and policies that govern the workings of regional and district councils. This includes the Local Government Act, the Resource Management Act and issues relating to the Treaty of Waitangi for local body authorities.

The programme also looks at strategies involved in campaigning for local body elections and provides an insight into a councillor’s roles and responsibilities.

Mrs Waaka says those who are interested in local body politics need to possess a thorough working knowledge of the legislation and how to work within timeframes.

“These opportunities for our people should be endorsed and this is the inspiration behind the Certificate in Local Government – to prepare people for leadership roles.”

The programme is being launched in early April with a series of marae visits around the Bay of Plenty region.

The three key lecturers include Mrs Waaka, offering her vast knowledge and experience in local government, James Hudson (LLM Hons.) of Ngati Awa, who has a background in law, research in environmental law, public law and the Treaty of Waitangi; and Dr Maria Bargh (PhD) of Te Arawa and Ngati Awa, who is a specialist in political science and international relations. A number of guest lecturers and speakers will also contribute to the programme.

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