Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Council is currently consulting on the future of Māori representation on council. In October 2023 the decision will be made by the governing body whether to introduce Māori seats for the 2025 local elections.
Here Waitematā Local Board member Richard Northey outlines the arguments in favour of Māori seats in response to the consultations questions.
1 Do you think Auckland Council should introduce Māori seats for the 2025 local elections?
Yes, Strongly Support.
Tell us why:
- We can reasonably presume that the majority of those people who identify as Māori, particularly those whose identification is so strong that they have chosen to enroll on the Māori Roll, deserve and would value the opportunity to elect, and be represented directly through a Māori Ward, and provide an authentic Māori voice on their Council.
- The Local Government Act, the Auckland Council Act and the Tiriti o Waitangi mandate for Council the representation of, communication of, and listening and responding to, the views and voice of Māori. Having Māori seats would clearly be an effective way of enhancing our current ways of doing this.
- The legislative amendment, made at the end of this Parliamentary session, which raised the maximum allowable number of elected Auckland City Councillors from the current number of twenty, makes it wholly practicable and relatively easy simply to add an appropriately determined number of Māori Ward seats to the composition of the Auckland Council.
- Māori residents of Waitemata and representatives of iwi that have an accepted connection to the Waitematā Local Board area, have informed us, and asked for our support for the creation of Māori seats on the Auckland Council.
- Other legislative changes, enabling those adults of Māori origin to choose the nature of their roll, whether Māori or General, up to three months before a Parliamentary or Council election, will enable the seats to be elected by people who will have chosen they want to identify with the Māori roll for the specific purpose of electing their Councillor, whether or not they make the same choice of roll identification for Parliament.
2. If Auckland Council decides to introduce Māori seats, which model would you prefer?
The Parliamentary model (Māori wards)
- As has operated in Parliament for over 150 years, it appears to us to be preferable for all of the Councillors to have the same origin and role, namely that of representing, and being elected by, an equivalent total number of people, whether by those on the general roll or those on the Māori roll.
- This system can be adopted without seeking or waiting for further legislative change, which would be re required. Such a law change is unlikely to occur in the event of a National / Act Parliamentary majority. These parties’ MPs strongly opposed the Bill for iwi to appoint two representatives to the Canterbury Regional Council and they have said they would oppose any similar appointments to other Councils.
- It would, in our view, be preferable for the important interests, views and rights of iwi to be pursued through more appropriate channels rather than by making appointments to the Governing Body. These channels include the roles and powers that can be allotted to iwi and hapu through the Natural and Built Environment Act, the Spatial Planning Act, the Local Government Act, the Tiriti settlements made in Tamaki Makaurau, and several other laws and regulations.
- The provisions for appointments by iwi to other governing bodies, such as through the water reforms, has proven to be very contentious, and it may well be preferable to gain more general acceptance for Māori seats through having Māori Wards rather than through iwi appointments.
3. Is there anything else you would like the Mayor and councillors to consider when making this decision?
- The Auckland Council to be elected in 2025 should, in our view, retain at least the current number of 20 General Ward Councillors as this could justify, on population grounds, the creation of two Māori wards. Having two Councillors would ensure that their geographical area and diversity of rohe of iwi in each ward was manageable, to provide mutual cultural and personal support and a potential seconder for any resolutions, to enable them to be discussed. For a Council of Auckland’s population size and diversity this overall number of Ward Councillors is desirable to retain democratic representation and ability to connect with large numbers of people.
- The Auckland Council should seek a legislative amendment to enable Local Boards to have Māori Wards in the circumstances where the local board seeks the creation of such wards and the numbers of people represented by the Māori roll in that Board area would otherwise meet the legislative requirements to justify the creation of a Māori ward or wards. This would enable a democratic right for the people and their representatives to determine whether having Māori seats would enhance the interests of their Board area.
- Were Māori seats to be created on the Auckland Council, that should not, in itself, make the Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB) redundant. The IMSB advances the interests of Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau, and has often provided valuable information and a voice for Māori, particularly Manawhenua Iwi Māori, which has informed and enhanced the decisions of the Auckland Council. The IMSB also ensures that Auckland Council acts in accordance with statutory provisions relating to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Whether the IMSB should be retained, and in what appropriate form and roles, should be decided after a review of the IMSB consulted on and undertaken after decisions are made on the Māori seats issue.
- It is vital now to hear and take account of the voices and views of Manawhenua, Maatawaka and the range of all other Auckland residents through thorough consultation, to help inform and determine the Auckland Council’s decisions on this matter.
Feedback is open until 24 September
Have your say here https://akhaveyoursay.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/maori-seats
Should there be Māori seats on Auckland Council, The Spinoff