Yesterday’s recommendation by the Hastings District Council Maori joint committee against Maori wards for the district reflects messages we are receiving from the public, Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Don Brash said today.
Five of the eight-person committee were clear that Maori wards were not necessary to ensure an effective Maori voice on the council.
Councillor Henare O’Keefe’s statement that “regardless of ethnicity, you get to this table by doing the hard yards – you don’t need Maori wards for that” is exactly the Hobson’s Pledge message and could have been taken from one of our speeches, Dr Brash said.
“It is a mistake to think that Maori are an identity group with a single voice that is best heard through separate representation”, Dr Brash said.
Separate representation has had the effect of side-lining Maori aspirations for decades and we think a single electoral roll is the best way forward for everyone, he said.
The issue of Maori wards on local councils divides local communities and the fact that central government requires local bodies to investigate this option regularly is a recipe for constant turmoil, Dr Brash said.
Hobson’s Pledge, the group that Dr Brash represents, is raising awareness about the problems associated with tribal appointees in local government, race-based policy, treaty clauses in legislation, rogue recommendations by the Waitangi Tribunal, iwi claims for water ownership, and the unfair tax exemption for tribal businesses.