LGNZ call to end Maori wards vote out of touch

In calling on Parliament to deny ratepayers the right to veto council decisions to create racially-based political structures, Local Government New Zealand reveals just how totally out of touch they are with the views of the overwhelming majority of ratepayers, Don Brash said today in response to a press release from LGNZ.

In every one of the districts whose councils decided to impose Maori wards – Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, Palmerston North, Manawatu and Kaikoura  –  large numbers of ratepayers petitioned for a poll, showing clearly that very many do not want race-based wards, Dr Brash said.

“Most councilors know this, which is why they are trying to prevent those views being expressed,” Dr Brash said.

“LGNZ argues that allowing ratepayers to have a vote when councils propose to create Maori wards is somehow a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi because ratepayers have no right to have a vote when general wards are created, or reconfigured,” Dr Brash said.

“But it is surely Councils which breach the Treaty by proposing racially-based political structures.  The Treaty gave all New Zealanders equal rights, and certainly did not envisage racially-based political structures nearly 200 years later,” Dr Brash said.

“The patronizing suggestion that Maori New Zealanders are incapable of being elected to local councils unless special Maori wards are created is surely shown for the nonsense it is by the 29 Maori New Zealanders currently in Parliament, including the Leaders or Deputy Leaders of every party in Parliament, none of them dependent on the anachronistic Maori electorates to be there.”

Parliament voted on this issue in June last year, and decisively rejected a move which would have denied ratepayers the right to express a view on this issue.

Casey Costello and Don Brash, spokespeople for the Hobson’s Pledge Trust, wrote to the President of LGNZ yesterday and their letter is reproduced below.

Contact

Don Brash                   (021) 420 144

25 March 2018

 

Mr David Cull

President

Local Government New Zealand

 

Dear Mr Cull,

It has come to our attention that you wrote to the leaders of Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens last Friday on behalf of the members of Local Government New Zealand urging them to remove those sections of the Local Electoral Act 2001 that allow for polls of electors on whether or not a city, district or region can establish Maori wards.

Your letter noted that the binding poll only applies to Maori wards and constituencies, and not to other wards and constituencies, “marking the provision as discriminatory to Maori and inconsistent with the principle of equal treatment enshrined in the Treaty of Waitangi. It is the view that either the poll provisions should apply to all wards or they should apply to none”.

Writing on behalf of the Hobson’s Pledge Trust, we could see merit in having the poll provision extend to all wards but are strongly opposed to abolishing the right of ratepayers to demand a poll when councils vote to establish Maori wards.

Creating racially-based political systems is directly contrary to what the Treaty of Waitangi proposed where, in Article III, it promised that all New Zealanders would have the rights and privileges of British subjects.  While we are strongly opposed to such racially-based wards and see them as totally inconsistent with the Treaty, at very least, if councils do vote to establish such wards, ratepayers should have a right to express a view on the matter.

It has been suggested that Maori wards are necessary to ensure Maori New Zealanders are elected to local government.  This is surely patronizing nonsense, as shown by the 29 Maori New Zealanders who are now in Parliament, only seven of them elected in the anachronistic Maori electorates. 

When the Deputy Prime Minister, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the National Party, the Deputy Leader of NZ First, and one of the co-Leaders of the Green Party are all Maori, any suggestion that Maori New Zealanders are somehow incapable of being elected to local government is offensive.

(It’s worth observing that none of the Maori MPs mentioned depended for their election on the Maori electorates.  While Mr Kelvin Davis was elected in a Maori electorate, being #2 on the Labour Party list ensured that he would have been elected to Parliament even if he had not won that electorate.)

 

In some parts of the country there are more Asian New Zealanders than Maori New Zealanders, and yet nobody is arguing for Asian wards in local government to ensure adequate Asian representation in local councils.  And if somebody did argue for Asian wards, they would be rightly denounced as racist or laughed out of the room.

Similarly, in some parts of the country there are very few if any women elected to local councils, yet nobody is arguing that there should be special wards for women.

You may not be aware that Parliament debated this specific issue in June last year when Marama Davison had her Member’s Bill drawn from the ballot (the Local Electoral (Equitable Process for establishing Maori Wards and Maori Constituencies) Amendment Bill).  

It was overwhelming rejected by Parliament when the National, NZ First and ACT party MPs unanimously voted it down.  There can be no valid reason for any different outcome now.

Yours sincerely

 

Casey Costello

Don Brash

On behalf of Hobson’s Pledge Trust


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