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Auckland Councillors for Maori Seats on Super City

Media Release
City Vision-Labour Councillors - Auckland City Council

For Immediate Release

Thursday 27 August 2009

Auckland City Councillors for Maori Seats on the Super City

Six Auckland City Councillors have broken ranks with Mayor John Banks and the Citizens and Ratepayers (C&R) majority to appeal to the Government to provide for Maori seats on the new supercity Auckland Council.  The breakaway group will take advantage of the presence of Local Government Minister Rodney Hide at this Friday’s Local Government New Zealand Zone One (Auckland-Northland) meeting at Manukau City Council where they will urge him to reconsider his effective veto on Maori seats on the Auckland Council.  It is expected a large number of councillors and community board members from across the region will be present at Hide’s address about Auckland Governance issues which is scheduled for 10:15am.

Councillor Richard Northey, who is Chair of Local Government New Zealand Zone One, said: “For the supercity to have a chance of working it is crucial it has the confidence of all significant sectors of Auckland, particularly Maori.  Auckland Maori have said, in no uncertain terms, that they need Maori seats in order to gain the assured authentic voice of Maori at the top table of Auckland’s governance that they need to have confidence in the new Auckland Council.  This is not an additional vote or voice for Maori, simply an alternative but certain mechanism to overcome the appalling record of Auckland voters of electing only eight Maori to the Auckland City Council throughout its long 138-year history.  Rodney Hide and National MPs now recognise and accept that Maori representation in Parliament has attracted and retained Maori confidence and participation in the democratic political process.  It is vital that this also happen with the Auckland Council and it is best that this occurs through Maori seats.”

Councillor Glenda Fryer said, “The Government has insulted Auckland City Council’s iwi partners in this decision.  The council has worked hard since the dark years of the Bastion point debacle to cultivate a solid and equal relationship with local iwi Ngati Whatua and Gulf Island iwi Ngati Paoa and Ngati Rehua.  Ngati Whatua have made it clear they see a full governance role in the super city as a bottom line, and have indicated the ceremonial role, that is an integral part in all important ceremonies in Auckland, may be curtailed at important civic occasions as a result of this insult.  This would be detrimental to the cultural and political life of all Aucklanders.  The Government needs to listen to their iwi advisers and make fair laws that give long overdue governance recognition to the tangata whenua of the whole Auckland region.”

Councillor Cathy Casey said, “I walked with thousands of others on the hikoi just a few short months ago.  What is clear is that Maori in Auckland will not be fobbed off with an advisory role to the new Super Council.  The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi demand that Maori be given a place at the decision-making table.  The only option for Government is to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission and not be blackmailed by the ACT Party.”

Councillor Denise Roche said, “Diversity does not occur naturally at the table of power and it certainly won’t occur if we continue to pretend that there is a level playing field for Maori.  In local government Maori are not fairly represented and Pakeha are over-represented, this is a simple mathematical fact.  There have been more mayors in New Zealand of Chinese descent than there have been Maori mayors!  To interpret that imbalance and take recommendations on remedying it, we can either take the view of the group disadvantaged by the imbalance, Maori, or we can take the view of the group advantaged by the imbalance, Pakeha.  In denying the voice of the underrepresented in favour of the beneficiaries of injustice, Prime Minister John Key and his National Party colleagues condemn us to local governance that becomes increasingly irrelevant to Maori and robs our children of any hope of growing up in a land of racial harmony.”

Councillor Leila Boyle said, “The National Party is dreaming if they think that the new Auckland Council will decide to introduce Maori seats.  In August last year, City Vision-Labour councillors tried to introduce a single separate Maori ward onto the Auckland City Council for the 2010 elections as provided for in the Local Government Act.  However, all C&R Councillors block voted against it!  National cannot seriously believe that Supercity councillors will give up any of their power by introducing Maori councillor positions, particularly if the new Auckland Council is dominated by C&R as Auckland City Council has been for the last seven decades.”


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