At the end of October 2018, the Canterbury Regional Council published a notification in local newspapers announcing the "Ngai Tahu Representation Bill" to be sponsored in the House by Rino Tirikatene.
The Bill, The Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu Representation) Bill empowers Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu (TRoNT) to appoint up to two representatives, with full voting rights, on the Council. These representatives will be in addition to the existing 14 elected members elected after the 2019 election.
As such, Ngai Tahu beneficiaries living within Canterbury will be represented both through the elected members of the Council, as well as through the Runanga appointees.
The rationale behind the Bill is not only absurd but profoundly anti-democratic. It discriminates on the grounds of race and introduces a massive conflict of interest between the commercial interests of the South Island's largest business and protection of the Canterbury environment.
- it abandons the basic principle of democracy that those who govern be elected to office by those whom they govern
- it denies the right of ordinary members of the public to sack Appointees (poor decision making, laziness, negligence, abuse of power, not acting in the wider interests of the community, overly long tenure)
- it allows local members of Ngai Tahu two votes - one as a member of the wider community, the other through the TRoNT Appointees
- it grants representation to Ngai Tahu members living outside of Canterbury, even overseas
- it contributes to the absurd notion that people with one or more Maori ancestors have some sort of innate superiority over matters of environmental management.
- it contributes to a growing Maori Aristocracy, where New Zealanders with Maori ancestry have separate and distinct political and legal rights
- it ignores the fact that most Ngai Tahu members are overwhelmingly of European or other ancestry - it is absurd that Parliament should seek to confer special rights and privileges eight generations or more into the future on a person with perhaps a single Maori ancestor eight or so generations ago.
Massive conflict of interest
It is the business of Environment Canterbury (ECAN) to regulate activities which may have adverse environmental effects.
The TRoNT Appointees are appointed to represent the interests of Ngai Tahu members. But TRoNT is the governance organisation of a billion dollar (charitable) enterprise, holding farming, forestry and aquaculture interests, commerical and residential buildings as well as other businesses such as Go Bus (2/3 owned by Ngai Tahu) which are regulated by ECAN.
This introduces an inherent conflict of interest between the Appointees' role as environmental guardians and their mandate to safeguard the commercial interests of the Runanga.
Discrimination on the grounds of race and ethnicity
The Bill breaches section 19(1) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, being discrimination under the grounds laid out under section 21 of the Human Rights Act: Prohibited grounds of discrimination including race, colour and national origin.
The Bill establishes a precedent for Appointees on other Regional Councils around the country.
Canterbury local, John Bell is spearheading our local campaign. If you are able to join or assist John, please contact him on [email protected]