The Maori questions in the Auckland consultation

The Auckland Council is seeking feedback on a 10-year budget and Auckland Plan 2050 and tucked in there is a whole series of questions on Maori identity and wellbeing.

The separate questions on Maori language, culture, and intergenerational wealth appear odd and patronising when set beside questions on a regional fuel tax, rates rises, cleaning up the harbour and streams, protecting endangered species, and affordable homes.

The Maori section has seven focus areas and we are being asked whether the plan set out would achieve the stated goals. The seven focus areas are:

  1. Meet the needs and support the aspirations of tamariki and their whanau.
  2. Invest in marae to be self-sustaining and prosperous.
  3. Strengthen rangatahi participation in leadership, education and employment outcomes.
  4. Grow Maori inter-generational wealth.
  5. Advance mana whenua leadership and decision-making and provide for customary rights.
  6. Celebrate Maori culture and support te reo Maori to flourish.
  7. Reflect mana whenua matauranga and Maori design principles throughout Auckland.

The plan explains that mana whenua Maori, or those whose tribes are located in Auckland, make up 14 percent of the Auckland Maori population, with the remainder being mataawaka Maori, or those whose tribes are located in other districts.

There are around 152,000 people of Maori descent in Auckland, or 10.7 percent of Auckland’s population. They are the fourth largest group in Auckland, after New Zealand European (59.3 percent), Asian (23.1 percent), and Pacific Islander (14.6 percent).  

The Auckland Plan Evidence Report - Maori Identity and Wellbeing, reveals that the Auckland Council has a target of 16 shared-governance-with-iwi arrangements with a handful of individuals who belong to the 21,300 mana whenua Auckland Maori to be in place by 2040.

This is a deal giving co-governance to fewer than 1.5 percent of those living in Auckland.

Hobson’s Pledge members think that grand-scale race-based affirmative action is not a legitimate role for a local authority.

Moreover, bestowing extra co-governance rights on a group based on race subverts New Zealand’s democracy.

You may tell the Auckland Council what you think of the Maori identity and wellbeing plan by 5pm on Wednesday by going to https://engage.ubiquity.co.nz/surveys/mom8LOQAZkiKnAjVaiCmfQ although most of the questions there are not about the Maori plan.

Local govt head tries to end Maori ward votes

Local Government New Zealand president Dave Cull has asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, and Green Party leader James Shaw for a law change to remove the right of citizens to demand a poll should a Maori ward be proposed in their area.

Last year, Green MP Marama Davidson tried this through her Local Electoral (Equitable Process for establishing Maori Wards and Maori Constituencies) Amendment Bill but the bill failed to pass the first reading.

That was after former mayor Andrew Judd petitioned Parliament to end votes on Maori wards after he lost the vote on such a scheme he proposed for New Plymouth.

Mr Cull wrote that he was receiving “increasing feedback that changes to the Local Electoral Act intended to increase Maori representation in local authorities have failed, largely due to the nature of the poll provisions”.

“The binding poll only applies to Maori wards and constituencies and [does] not apply to other wards and constituencies, making the provision discriminatory to Maori and inconsistent with the principle of equal treatment under the Treaty of Waitangi,” Mr Cull wrote.

He wrote that the poll provisions should apply to all wards or none; he went on to say that the Government “should put in place a legislative framework that would enable mature and constructive conversations about options for Maori representation in local authorities”.

Hobson’s Pledge notes that those seeking votes on the Maori ward proposals in Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, Manawatu, Kaikoura, and especially Palmerston North, found that more maturity was required of elected officials who denigrated citizens collecting signatures.

Any perceived discrimination may be resolved by extending binding polls to proposed changes to all wards and constituencies. This may encourage greater citizen involvement in local politics.

However, we suspect that the big push is to end the right to a vote on Maori wards so that virtue-signalling local politicians would be able to sneak in Maori wards unopposed.

When the Marama Davidson bill was debated in Parliament last year, National, New Zealand First and ACT Members of Parliament unanimously voted against it. NZ First MP Ron Mark in particular gave a devastating speech opposed to racial representation in local government See https://www.parliament.nz/en/watch-parliament/ondemand?itemId=195875

It must be hoped that the same parties strongly oppose the suggestion by Local Government New Zealand this year.

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