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Northland Local Government Restructure

NEAG Supports Local Government Commission on Northland Local Government Restructure

Qualified support from Northland Industry Sectors representative body.

The Northland Economic Action Group (NEAG) has prepared a submission which is generally in support of the Local Government Commission's proposal for restructure. The Groups focus is economic development for Northland and it argues that the “Whole of Northland” approach is the scale required to make a difference in Northland.

Chairman Shane Lloydd of Omapere said “NEAG agrees with the statement made in the proposal “Northland is on the edge of population and economic pressures that will change the face of the region. Local Government must adapt to meet these challenges.”

The submission goes on to argue why the “Whole of Northland” approach is important for the region’s economic development.

“Our support is focused around the economic development benefits of the restructure, however our support is qualified because of the issues of local democracy and Maori representation” said Shane. “We must have empowered Local Boards that represent true identified communities of interest. The 1989 restructure had the Community Boards as a core to retaining local democracy and decision making. However, over time, the power of most (but not all) Community Boards has dissipated and delegations centralised to the governing body. NEAG supports and encourages the development of local boards with certainty of funding and delegations of decision making powers. NEAG see this as the key to public acceptance of this re-organisation to ensure sustainable local democracy that cannot be undermined”

“Our second qualification is the proposed Maori representation. NEAG are not qualified to make recommendations on the structure of this representation however demographics show that the Te Tai Tokerau Maori population is at currently at 34% and expected to grow beyond 40% by 2030. Maori have rights as Tangata Whenua under the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori are currently underrepresented in local government.

Growth of the Northland Maori economy will stimulate growth in the Northland economy as a whole, with the potential to achieve a step-change in certain industries which feature strong Maori participation i.e. aquaculture, forestry and agriculture. . There are a range of challenges to building a competitive Te Tai Tokerau Maori economy, including the influence of local government regulatory management.

NEAG supports increased Maori representation on Council, Local Boards, Standing Committees and all other levels of local government functioning. While the NEAG supports ‘in principle’ the proposed structures as a general improvement on the status quo, it is acknowledged that these fail to properly provide for Maori aspirations.

NEAG supports the proposal and asks that if accepted, the timing of implementation is kept to a minimum. We have to move on from the status quo and as long as local democracy is protected and enhanced, the proposal is the best of the options examined. It may not be perfect but it is an improvement. This change could trigger the rejuvenation of the Northland’s economic performance and social wellbeing.”

Ends

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