A decision by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council two days ago to establish one or more Maori wards is patronizing nonsense, Hobson’s Pledge spokesman Don Brash said today.
“What the decision implies is that Maori are somehow not quite capable of being elected to the council on their own merits, and have to have special assistance to make it,” Dr Brash said.
“There are 29 Maori Members of Parliament, only seven of them getting there in Maori electorates,” he said.
“The Deputy Leaders of both the National and Labour parties are Maori, as are the Leader and Deputy Leader of New Zealand First. They got there on their own merit, not because some paternalistic Pakeha gave them a preferred status,” he said.
In a question and answer commentary attached to the announcement of their decision, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council claims, absurdly, that creating Maori wards “helps to counter separatism as it tangibly recognizes the concept of partnership and proportional representation”.
“On the contrary, by basing voting rights on ethnicity, the Council’s decision directly creates separatism,” Dr Brash said.
Article III of the Treaty of Waitangi guaranteed all New Zealanders equal rights. What the Council has decided is that a racially-based voting system is to be preferred, he said.
Hobson’s Pledge supports a petition for a poll on the Maori wards proposal in the Western Bay of Plenty, and will support similar polls being organised in Whakatane, Palmerston North, and Manawatu.
The round of representation reviews this year required under the Local Electoral Act 2001 means that the Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, and Manawatu district councils as well as the Palmerston North City Council have all decided to proceed with such wards.
"This is an important issue. Residents and ratepayers in those four areas are entitled to have a say in such a radical shift in representation arrangements,” Dr Brash said.
Don Brash (021) 420 144
Casey Costello (027) 532 4959