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Ngāi Tahu Representation Bill Passes First Reading

Our effort to reinstate mana whenua voting rights has passed a significant milestone with the local Bill having its first reading in Parliament.

The Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill seeks to provide for mana whenua representation around the Council table, by empowering Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to appoint up to two members of the Council, with full decision-making powers.

“We are thrilled that the Bill has passed its first reading. This has cleared the way for the Bill to move to the Select Committee, which has now opened the submissions process so people can comment on the Bill,” says Chair Jenny Hughey.

“The Select Committee process is the pinnacle of consultation processes and is open to everyone in New Zealand.”

Partnership between local government and mana whenua

We work in partnership with 10 Ngāi Tahu papatipu rūnanga who hold mana whenua status within our boundaries, through a collective called Te Rōpū Tuia.

Te Rōpū Tuia co-chair Liz Brown says the Ngāi Tahu Representation Bill reflects the rangatiratanga between local government and mana whenua.

“This Bill allows us to build on the mahi of our tīpuna (ancestors), who have advocated over many generations for better representation of mana whenua when decisions are being made within our takiwā (tribal area).

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“If this Bill passes, we will bring our tribal values of kaitiakitanga and tino rangatiratanga, when we make decisions with Councillors about the future of our awa, whenua, mahinga kai, and taonga native species. As an iwi we take an intergenerational view, and our decisions today must consider Waitaha a hundred years from now. Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – For us and our children after us.”

Ms Hughey says among the benefits of mana whenua representation are greater efficiency in planning and consenting processes, reduced costs for Council and consent applicants, and improved enforcement decisions. “The practical advantages of mana whenua representation are substantial and significant, as has been proven in Canterbury in the previous Council term.”

She added this isn’t the first time a Local Bill has been used to secure appropriate Māori representation on a regional council. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Māori Constituency Empowering) Act achieved this for mana whenua in 2001.

Submissions are now open

The Māori Affairs Select Committee has opened the submissions period for comment on the Bill.

How to make a submission

  • Make a submission.
  • Follow the Bill’s progress on the Parliament website.
  • Find out more about the origins of the Bill.

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