Race preference in action in Otago vote

The seven-three vote at the Otago Regional Council yesterday to include two voting un-elected tribal appointees on its policy committee shows race-based preferential treatment in action, Hobson’s Pledge spokesman Don Brash said today.

Iwi spokesman Edward Ellison was clear that Ngai Tahu wants the seats on the policy committee to be able to vote on water management.

Having voting representatives on the policy committee is in addition to regular meetings the tribe has with a group of Otago regional councillors, including the chair and deputy chair.

They are apparently able to phone the council’s chair and chief executive officer at any time to discuss any issue, which is almost certainly a level of access unavailable to any other individual or group in Otago.

Bear in mind, Ngai Tahu has received $437-million in Treaty settlements since 1998, and has built this into a billion-dollar asset, helped greatly by being exempted from having to pay tax on income.

Legislation regards iwi as special groups and requires councils to consult with them.

The Otago Regional Council is not the only local authority where iwi members have asked for and been given the right to vote on council committees without having to seek election.

There are around 80 tribal groups throughout New Zealand, resurrected and generously funded by the Government and assuming a status of “treaty partners” who see themselves as separate from the rules applied to New Zealand citizens and somehow exempt from democratic processes. 

This is unfair and unequal and wrong.  Successive governments have created this appalling situation, and sooner or later all of us will have to pay for it, Dr Brash said.