Archive for May, 2009

Editorial: Plenty of room to compromise on Maori seats

According to the Prime Minister, yesterday’s hikoi up Queen St was the wrong forum to push for Maori representation on the Auckland Council. To a degree, he may be right. The protest has made it more difficult for the Government to accommodate the marchers’ concerns without appearing to have backed down. But from other angles, John Key has missed the point. The hikoi demonstrated, as probably no other means would have, the depth of feeling in Auckland’s Maori community and the extent of the Government’s misjudgment when it abruptly rejected a royal commission recommendation for three Maori seats – two elected and one appointed by local iwi – on the Super City council.

Nothing about the hikoi suggested the Government was on the wrong track with its Super City proposal, or that it should not hold the line on the vast majority of its proposals. The protesters’ ambitions were narrowly focused on the Maori seats. This, however, is an issue on which the Government has boxed itself into a corner for no good reason. Its stand has cast a shadow over its relations with the Maori Party, and the significance of Mr Key’s gesture in inviting that party to be part of his Government. It also put the Government at odds with a thoroughly researched and significant aspect of the report of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, which had given Maori every expectation that their wish for representation would be acknowledged.


Appointed councillors – Maori or otherwise – are not the answer. But there is plenty of room for a compromise that, most logically, would leave Maori with two seats on the council. Those councillors should be elected by Auckland residents on the rolls of the Maori parliamentary electorates that cover the Super City. This would eliminate the need to open up the issue of which iwi might have favoured status. It would also sit logically with an overall system of council ward boundaries based on parliamentary electorates.

The Government’s problem, following its thumbs-down for the seats, is how to orchestrate this sort of arrangement without appearing to capitulate. It is evident that wheels have begun to turn. Iwi have put a proposal to the Cabinet for Maori representation that they say sidesteps Mr Key’s aversions. The Maori Affairs Minister, while declining to go into details, says it is “a means by which mana whenua can select in a democratic fashion their representatives”.

Predictably enough, Pita Sharples takes a different view of the hikoi than the Prime Minister. It has, he suggests, promoted “the whole urgency” of the representation issue. That is a reasonable conclusion. Well-attended and peaceful marches such as this make a point more effectively than any number of petitions or submissions to a parliamentary select committee. This one has focused attention on a part of the Super City process that was certainly handled in a rushed and rudimentary manner.

The Government’s rush of blood ran contrary to the inclusive urge that has underpinned its approach to Maori issues. After due consideration, it must surely find a way to include Maori representation on the Auckland Council.


Proud to be Maori

Proud to be Maori

Last updated 05:00 29/05/2009
“I’m just so proud to be Maori, papa!”

That’s what young Lewin Husband said to his dad, Radio Waatea host Dale, in an interview on the hikoi last Monday.

It was a heartfelt statement that probably summed up the feelings of most of the those on the 7000-strong hikoi that marched in support of Maori seats on Auckland’s supercity council.

Lewin’s statement was important because Maori pride, identity and rights were being challenged.

Whanganui mayor Michael Laws said on his radio show: “Look at what’s happening, the radicals and fascists are taking over, democracy as we know it is being threatened by Maori fascists!”

Laws and his twin brother Leighton Smith on Newstalk ZB had a field day at our expense, and managed yet again to expose the right-wing, redneck racists who are unfortunately still too prevalent in New Zealand society. Rednecks flooded talkback with all the usual racist rhetoric. Maori are too privileged, are separatists, are bludgers and so on, encouraged by Laws and Smith. It was like lighting the cross at a Ku Klux Klan rally.

The hikoi was a reminder that Maori spirit can not be broken. Whether we get Maori seats or not, we have an ability as a people to come together when the kaupapa requires it.

This kaupapa of Maori representation being cut out of the supercity demanded a strong reaction and our people responded magnificently.

The hikoi was a sight to behold as Maori groups from all parts of Auckland and beyond converged on Queen St.

It was great to see the support from many Pakeha, Pacific Island people and other minorities.

It was good to hear the mayors of Manukau, North Shore, Waitakere and Papakura voicing their support for Maori seats on the new council. What a shame none of them reserved seats on their councils.

But it’s great the penny has finally dropped because Maori can do with their support in the battle ahead.

It’s a battle that still has a way to go but it’s one that started with passion and power.

The hikoi proved how disciplined and peaceful Maori protests can be and it was perhaps the greatest expression of Maori identity Auckland’s inner city has ever seen.

Young Lewin Husband was so proud to be Maori, and I was too.


Enough is enough. The government’s insistence on forcing change in Auckland’s governance is bullying.

OPINION Enough is enough. The government’s insistence on forcing change in Auckland’s governance is bullying.

There is no evidence Aucklanders want it, and plenty that they don’t.

By DAVID KEMEYS – Auckland

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Local Government Minister Rodney Hide should remember he is in Parliament because his electorate can double-dip and ensure a partner for National.

This government’s stance strips democracy from residents.

The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance’s position, reached after months of work, submissions and consultation, has been dumped. It proposed shared governance within the region and Wellington, and outlined how to achieve that.

The Auckland Council would decide plans, own everything and employ staff. Six local councils would oversee services in their areas, and make sure community needs were taken to the Auckland Council.

The commissioners proposed a local councillor in the existing four cities for every 20,000 people, for every 9000 in Rodney and every 12,000 in Hunua.

They also proposed various initiatives that, in short, meant councils with real powers, community engagement and an effective voice.

The commission decided the six councils would retain local knowledge and be efficient, though the change would mean a new relationship between Auckland and the government.

To meet that challenge a minister for Auckland was proposed, alongside a permanent Auckland cabinet committee and other cooperative measures.

But Prime Minister John Key and Mr Hide know better.

Despite not doing any research and with limited analysis, they have dumped the recommendations, wiping out the local councils and giving all the power to the Auckland Council, while cutting it from 23 and an elected mayor to 20 and a mayor.

The councils are replaced by 20 to 30 utterly powerless community boards.

That is a region of 1.4 million people controlled by 20 councillors and a mayor. Explain that in democratic terms? We can’t.

Mr Key and Mr Hide might as well have set fire to the money the commission cost, though that appears not to matter since neither man can say what cost savings their proposal will bring.

Mr Hide claims to have consulted the region’s mayors. He has not. Auckland’s mayor John Banks does not represent the region – yet.

North Shore’s Andrew Williams even goes so far as to accuse him of misleading the people of Auckland.

Mayors are asking to be told what is going on, which seems far from unreasonable.

Manukau’s Len Brown, rightly, has called the government’s proposal a travesty for local democracy because it strips away the local voice.

The commission produced an 800-page report with 100 recommendations. If its work was irrelevant, as seems evident, the process must be open to question.

The government’s proposal is an insult to Auckland, an insult to North Shore, an insult to Manukau, Waitakere, Rodney, Papakura and Franklin – and worse, it is an insult to democracy.

There is no doubt Auckland can benefit from a new model – just not this one.

Local government is often boring, it can even create and fuel apathy, but Aucklanders need to speak up. Let the government know this decision is many things, but above all else, it is just plain wrong.

Email your MP:

Auckland Central: Nikki Kaye,

Botany: Pansy Wong,

East Coast Bays: Murray McCully,

Epsom: Rodney Hide,,

Helensville: John Key,

Hunua: Paul Hutchison,

Maungakiekie: Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga,

Northcote: Jonathan Coleman,

North Shore: Wayne Mapp,

Rodney: Lockwood Smith,

Pakuranga: Maurice Williamson,

Papakura: Judith Collins,

Tamaki: Allan Peachey,

Waitakere: Paula Bennett,

Key dismisses hikoi


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LATEST A hikoi against the proposed Auckland Supercity is unlikely to make a difference, is premature and the wrong forum to raise concerns, Prime Minister John Key says.

The hikoi was sparked over the dumping of the Maori seats from the Auckland super city proposal – in contrast to a Royal Commission recommendation.

Hikoi are planned from Auckland’s south, north, east and west with up to 10,000 protesters expected.

Marchers are planning to converge at the bottom of Queen Street by noon before walking to the Town Hall and Aotea Square.

Hikoi organiser IHI (Iwi Have Influence) aims to reverse the Government’s decision, ensuring there are at least three Maori seats.

Mr Key was asked on TV One’s Breakfast show what he thought about the protest and the disruption it would cause.

“Obviously people have a right to protest and we respect that,” he said.

“(But) I can’t help but wonder if they are a little bit ahead of themselves.”

The right forum to raise concerns was through the parliamentary process, he said.

The select committee soon to start looking at legislation setting up the council would consider the issues raised by the protest, Mr Key said.

It would look at the governance structure, how councillors were elected and issues around Maori representation.

“I don’t think the hikoi of itself will make any difference really. . .we are going to go through the select committee process, that’s not a whitewash we are actually going to listen to what happens there. We are trying to work on getting an outcome that works for everyone.”

On Maori representation National preferred the idea of an advisory board than appointed seats.

“We certainly didn’t like the idea they were appointed, rather than elected.”

Mr Key said Labour had supported a unitary council and the majority of Aucklanders were also behind it.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide told the programme the Government was listening and did want to engage with local iwi and discussions with the Maori Party were continuing.

“I have to say though it’s pretty tough to imagine a situation where you have a reserved place or places on the council for a local tribe.”

Mr Hide said having a supercity would help sort out transport issues in Auckland.

Hikoi organiser Ngarimu Blair told Radio New Zealand this morning the goal was to “galvanise” Aucklanders in supporting the inclusion of Maori seats.

“(It’s) also giving them a voice (for) their concerns about how their democratic rights are being ridden roughshod over through this very rushed process,” Mr Blair said.

He said the intention was not to inconvenience Aucklanders.

“That’s why we have the hikoi at lunchtime. If we were aiming to cause disruption we would have had it at rush hour.”

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In Papakura, in a misty dawn ceremony on the ancient pa site of Red Hill, the prayers of a karakia rolled through suburban streets. Around 30 people, huddled in jackets, gathered to mark the start of a day of protest.

It was one of many small gatherings around the region as hikoi marchers prepared themselves. From Red Hill the group planned to drive to Papakura Rail Station where they expected to meet around 500 others and take a train into central Auckland.

Macky McGregor said she had to turn out to march. “You’ve got to fight for your rights.”

She was against the whole concept of a super city but particularly angered by the government decision to ditch special Maori representation from the super council – going against the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Auckland governance.

Also showing her opposition was Stacey Brown, carrying 10 month old Manaia. “It’s like they’ve taken away all our rights,” she said.


The Transport Agency says the protest is likely to cause significant delays for commuters travelling on Auckland’s motorways, and says commuters should consider leaving their vehicles at home and use public transport instead.

From noon to 1pm, Queen St between Customs St East and Wellesley St will be closed.

From about 12.30pm to at least 4pm, Queen St between Wellesley St and Mayoral Drive will be closed to accommodate the rally outside the town hall.

Several other roads throughout the city will be closed to traffic at various times of the morning, including inner Auckland Domain roads from 6am to at least 11am.

The hikoi is also expected to impact on bus services to and from the city, and people who would usually travel this way should contact the MAXX call centre on 09-366-6400 for information about alternate or cancelled routes on the day.

The rally is expected to finish at about 4pm, with participants making their own way back to their vehicles and original meeting points.

– with Rodney Times and NZPA

Concert Lineup Just Announced

Smashproof; Herbs; King Kapisi; Sons of Zion

Pacific Caucus at the UN calls on Indigenous Peoples Forum to support Super City Maori seats

The Pacific Caucus at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called on the Forum to support Maori aspirations over the proposed Auckland super-city.

On behalf of the caucus Catherine Davis of Te Rarawa said

” The Pacific Caucus asks the Permanent Forum to invite the New Zealand Government to implement the recommendation of the Crown-appointed Royal Commission, that Maori receive three of the 23 local body seats on the Auckland ‘Super-City’ Council, this being consistent with Government’s Treaty of Waitangi obligations to protect Māori rights and interests, and Articles 5, 18 and 19 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”

The Pacific caucus is made of Indigenous delegations from as far as Hawaii, Aboriginal Australia and the wider pacific.

In addition to the super city issue Professor Margaret Mutu from Ngāti Kahu said “As Treaty ‘partners’ in good faith negotiations, [Te Rarawa and Ngati Kahu] were finding it difficult to reconcile Government statements of fairness and justice with its continued opposition to the Declaration; and the denial of Māori Treaty rights, including rights to self determination, to ancestral lands, waters, their foreshore and seabed and other natural resources, and their right to compensation and reparation for the overwhelming spiritual, social and economic deprivation they continue to suffer.”

for the full statement see:

for more contact in New York
Catherine Davis
Professor Margaret Mutu 64212419650


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