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Reaction To Waitangi Tribunal Report: Waitangi Tribunal Calls On Govt To Stop Reversal Of Māori Wards' Excellent Outcome

The National Urban Māori Authority praises the Waitangi Tribunal’s position today in the WAI 3365 ‘the Māori Wards and Constituencies Urgent Inquiry’.

The Tribunal’s report says that the amendments should be a halted[1]to changing the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act 2021 and instead consultation with Māori and key stakeholders should take place.

In its findings the Tribunal said it was due to:

  • Flawed Crown policy process proceeding at speed towards what appears to be a pre-determined legislative outcome”.[2]
  • Clear breaches of the principle of partnership.”[3]
  • “The unilateral way the Crown has yet again proceeded to prioritise its commitments made in the coalition agreements over its obligations to Māori under the treaty.[4]

As an interested party to the proceedings, National Urban Māori Authority believes these findings are an excellent outcome.

“This is a very precise, measured, well-reasoned Tribunal report that is conservative and careful in its wording,” said Lady Tureiti Moxon, Chair of the National Urban Māori Authority.

“At the heart of this matter is policy that rescinds and reverses the resolution to establish Māori wards – this is not fair, just, or equitable. This disregards the Crowns obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.”

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The purpose of the Māori Wards was to avoid the unfair domination of tangata whenua by the majority to safeguard indigenous rights given their kaitiaki role as custodians of the land.

In her closing submission, Lady Tureiti said the move was “inappropriate and excessive exercise of kāwanatanga by the Crown. It appears intended to restrict Māori involvement in local government, undermining and prevents the exercise of tino rangatiratanga rather than fostering it.”

Three years ago she presented to the Hamilton City Council about the importance of voting for Māori Wards as part of honouring Te Tiriti so Māori are not excluded from participation at the top table in local government decision making in their rohe.

“In that public meeting I spoke about the significant symbolism of New Zealand's Coat of Arms that represents the covenant agreement between the Crown and Māori owners,” she said.

Understanding the true meaning behind the Coat of Arms is relevant to the case for having Māori Wards.

“It’s about mutual prosperity through shared sovereignty, highlighting the partnership between the two groups. Not upholding Māori representation in local government is discriminatory history repeating.”

Back in 2008 former Prime Minister John Key and government chose to ignore a Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommendation about two Māori seats.

Even before that Hamilton’s first wahine Māori councillor, Pirihira (Pat) Kaio said 26 years ago back in 1998 that "democracy is farcical, it will never work for minorities".

In 2021 after Hamilton City Council took it to the people, the data showed that more than four out of five people who submitted (81%) favoured Council introducing Māori wards.

[1] Section 6.2. Para 1 WAI 3365 Report dated 17-05-24

[2] Section 6.1. Para 2 WAI 3365 Report dated 17-05-24

[3] Section 6.1. Para 4 WAI 3365 Report dated 17-05-24

[4] Section 6.1. Para 4 WAI 3365 Report dated 17-05-24

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