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Greens Support Bay Of Plenty Regional Bill

16 May 2001

Green Party Treaty Issues spokesperson Nandor Tanczos said that Green Party votes would ensure that the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill would pass its second reading today.

"The regional council has brought this bill to Parliament after years of debate and consultation with local iwi and hapu about how to improve local representation.

"The Green Party recognises the passion and hard work of the council and tangata whenua. We will support this bill because of our own commitment to local participatory democracy and to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Mr Tanczos said there was an ongoing debate about whether separate Maori seats were the best way to provide adequate representation for Maori.

"The question of how to get fair representation for Maori in decision-making at local and national levels is a huge question for this country, and is at the core of the constitutional debate. It will not be solved overnight.

"Local people have said 'this is what we want'. The Green Party has listened to them and the Green caucus decision supports their right to determine that for themselves. As a member of the Justice and Electoral Committee, I was moved by the mana of the submitters who appeared on behalf of the bill."

"Green Party policy is to support the concept of substantive numbers of iwi and hapu representatives on Regional, District and City Councils so that they can be an effective part of the decision making process.

"This bill is a step towards achieving that, however we are not convinced that this is a ready-made solution for other regions. We need to work on finding the most appropriate solution for each individual situation."

Mr Tanczos said one of the models which other councils could look at to increase representation for Maori generally was STV.

Green MP Rod Donald will exercise a conscience vote to vote against the bill.

"I believe that the STV electoral system provides the best way to increase Maori participation and representation in local body politics. Separate Maori seats risks sidelining Maori and denying them the four or five seats they could win under STV," said Mr Donald.

The six Green votes in favour of the bill will ensure that it passes, as long as it receives full Government support.


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