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Democracy Re-engineered in Manukau City

Democracy Re-engineered in Manukau City

The Manukau City Council last night decided to reject a controversial proposal to create Maori Wards in Manukau City, but has instead chosen to establish a race-based Maori standing committee.

Howick Councillor Jami-Lee Ross is one of a long list of Manukau City Councillors who oppose the creation of a Maori ward or Maori standing committee.

“The issue of Maori representation is one of fairness and equality which all Councils should be striving to uphold” says Mr Ross

“As elected representatives we have a responsibility to give everybody equal opportunity to participate in the decision making process in our city. With the recent decision to create a Maori standing committee the Manukau City Council has decided to introduce 21st century apartheid into the city.

“New Zealanders no longer live in a bi-cultural country where only Maori and Pakeha faces can be seen. New Zealanders live in a multi-cultural society and Manukau is a very diverse city where over 165 different ethnic groups call this place home.”

Mr Ross believes that as community leaders, Councillors should be celebrating diversity by allowing all Manukau residents to have the same opportunities by creating an equal playing field for all.

“The Manukau City Council has decided to re-engineer democracy based purely on race, and that is wrong. What’s worse is that the decision was squeezed through by the slimmest of margins after Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis chose to exercise his casting vote.

“While Sir Barry is no doubt respected by a lot of people throughout the city, his decision to support race-based democracy will inevitably be seen as an endorsement of Deputy Mayor Anne Candy’s words when she said on nationwide television: ‘Maori are the hosts in this country and everybody else is a visitor’

“Those words disturbed a lot of people at the time and I am sure that many Manukau residents will have difficulty accepting this view from the leadership of their Council.”

Mr Ross considers supporters of the Maori standing committee to have forgotten about the third article of the Treaty of Waitangi. “Article three of the Treaty specifically refers to both Maori and non-Maori having the same rights and duties of citizenship as one another. The Manukau City Councillors who voted to give Maori more rights and privileges as others have completely ignored Article Three of the Treaty that they claim to uphold.

“What they have done instead is they’ve chosen to send a message to every non-Maori in the city that they are now second class citizens. From that message it is clear to see that the Manukau City Council’s decision to push through the creation of a Maori standing committee will have long term negative effects for the city. Manukau residents no longer enjoy equal citizenship, and small minority of 16% have more rights and privileges than everybody else.”

Mr Ross believes the root of the problem for Manukau City and other local authorities lies with the Local Government Act. “The legislation that Council’s work under was modified in 2001 to allow Maori wards to be established. The sooner a common sense government reverses the troublesome race-based clauses in local government legislation the better.

“They would also learn a lot from the words of Governor William Hobson at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840: ‘He Iwi Tahi Tatou – We are one people’”


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