COUNCIL

Hides assurances hollow and worthless - Maori Party

Friday 4 September 2009, 3:23PM
By Hone Harawira
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AUCKLAND

"New Zealanders should be aware now that assurances given by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide about the Auckland super-city are hollow and worthless", the Maori Party said today.

"The special select committee set up to hear the public’s views on the super city tables its report today,” said Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira, a member of the Select Committee, “but it is a pointless exercise because Act and National have already made up their minds on the essential elements of the set up without even looking at this report.

“To add insult to injury, the majority of the Select Committee recommended not having dedicated Maori seats, despite overwhelming support for Maori representation from the two thousand plus submitters to the Select Committee. How democratic is that?"

"We have noted the upsurge in frustration being expressed by Auckland civic, commercial and community leaders at the completely undemocratic way Rodney Hide and National are handling this. Perhaps they are starting to realise what Maori have had to labour under for well over a century," said Mr Harawira.

"The majority of the people who made submissions to the committee called for the establishment of Maori seats, and despite assurances given by Rodney Hide that the select committee was the place to make submissions and that they would be taken notice of, that was completely untrue."

"We in the Maori Party will continue to work to overturn these completely undemocratic moves by National and Act and we hope the people who are also opposed to this sham will join us in our endeavours," he said.

 

Media contact: Derek Fox 021- 375 857

 

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Maori Party Minority Report

 

The Maori Party cannot support this Bill as reported back from the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee because it does not provide for Maori representation in the governance structure of the proposed Auckland Council.

 

At the first reading of the Bill the Maori Party raised a number of points in support of dedicated Maori seats: that it was a specific recommendation of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance; that it was consistent with current provisions in the Local Government Act 2002; and that dedicated Maori seats uphold the partnership relationship established between Maori and the Crown through the Treaty of Waitangi, including the partnership established with the mana whenua of the Auckland region.

 

This position has been underscored by the public submissions received by the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee examining the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, with the report noting that substantial support was received for reserved seats for Maori.

 

Flying in the face of this support, the Committee has elected not to recommend that the Bill provide for Maori seats on the proposed Auckland Council. The Maori Party is extremely disappointed with this decision. It calls into serious question the fundamental basis of the parliamentary democratic process that is to reflect decision-making ‘of the people, for the people’.

 

The decision of the Committee also calls into serious question the commitment and understanding it has for the Treaty of Waitangi. The result of their failure to uphold the nation’s constitutional foundations, current law, and the wish of the people, will result in legislation that is not only in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, but that is as short-sighted as it is discriminatory. It is short-sighted because it fails to acknowledge the reality of what Maori have to offer at the governance table for a ‘greater’ Auckland region, and it is discriminatory because it denies recognition of the status of Maori as peoples – a right recognised in every international human rights instrument developed in international law since the end of World War Two.

 

We do not agree that the Committee was prevented from making a recommendation for dedicated Maori seats due to a lack of consensus on how Maori representation might be best expressed. The submissions received from mana whenua were consistent with one another and proposed a path forward that both acknowledged their status as mana whenua and included all Maori living in the Auckland region, consistent with tikanga Maori.

 

We also do not agree with the Committee’s view that the issue of Maori representation on the Auckland Council is best resolved through the Local Electoral Act 2001. Considerable time and funds have already been spent on canvassing public opinion (3,537 submissions were received by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, and 2,538 submissions by this Committee), resulting in strong support for the establishment of Maori seats. In light of this, the Committee’s decision to recommend that yet more time and money be spent on seeking the views of electors in the Auckland region is illogical and fiscally irresponsible.

 

Justice should be the guiding ethical ideal for Parliament, and its members and committees, including the courage to create new laws to set new and just precedents to resolve enduring issues of concern to the nation – as was done in the previous Parliament in repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act. Instead, the opportunity to set a new, just standard for the recognition of mana whenua and Maori in governance arrangements has been bypassed.

 

The report of the Committee is unjust, improper and politically motivated. The Bill signals an enduring and profoundly disturbing fear of sharing decision-making with Maori as provided for in the Treaty of Waitangi.