Archive for June, 2009

Mean Westies Mean!

Tenei te mihi nui mai i te IHI (Iwi Have Influence) ki te Iwi i tautoko i a matou hei oranga mo tatou te iwi Maori, mai te porotehi ki te kaunihera o Waitakere i tautoko i ta tatou kaupapa i te mutunga.

Waitakere City Council Votes For Maori Representation on New Council



Waitakere City Councillors voted unanimously at last night’s Council meeting for Maori representation on the Super City Council. This position will form a key part of Waitakere’s submission to the Government on the proposed Supercity Bill.


Vocal protests were held during the Council meeting calling on the Councillors to support Maori seats in their submission.  Spokesperson for the protest Helen Te Hira of IHI (Iwi Have Influence) West said they were pleased with the outcome as the Council has moved from a draft position earlier of wanting only a Maori advisory board.


“Thousands of Westies joined last month’s Hikoi calling for Maori representation, Waitakere City demonstrated tonight that unlike the Government they are willing to listen to the call of their Community.”


Ka wikitoria tatou ka tutuki o tatou wawata mehemea ka whakakotahi tonu tatou

For further comment contact Helen Te Hira on 0210554969


Protest Today at Waitakere City Council – they don’t want Maori seats!


E nga iwi, e nga reo, e nga rangatira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.
He protehi tenei na matou ki te tino kuare me te porangi o te kaunihera o Waitakere.  He mahi nanakia nei ki te iwi Maori.
Waitakere City Council has decided not to include in their submission (on behalf of all residents within Waitakere City) Maori seats at the governance level.  Instead they have proposed that a Maori forum be established, which is the same as we have today and ineffective for a SuperCity Model.
IHI (Iwi Have Influence) West  is contacting Bob Harvey for speaking rights at the Council meeting to restate our kaupapa on Mana Whenua and Maori representation and insist that Waitakere City Council include this as part of their submission.  Council needs to recognise the many West Auckland communities that joined the hikoi to support the inclusion of 3 guaranteed Mana Whenua and Maori Seats…
Please join us in a rally to lobby the Councillors to include guaranteed Mana Whenua and Maori representation in their submission.
Wednesday 24th June 2009
Waitakere City Council
6 Henderson Valley Road
Mauria mai to kaha me to reo ki te tutuki pai i nga wawata o nga iwi.

Susan Healy: Let’s acknowledge the gift of land that became Auckland

Susan Healy: Let’s acknowledge the gift of land that became Auckland

4:00AM Thursday Jun 11, 2009
By Susan Healy

It is right that Brian Rudman recently reminded us of the debt we owe the benefactors to our city and region. There was, however, one notable omission in the article, which recognised settlers of European descent.

The original, most substantial and ongoing benefactors to the city are the Ngati Whatua people of Orakei.

It was they who, in 1840, encouraged Governor William Hobson to establish his administration on the shores of the Waitemata and gave him an initial grant of 1416ha (3500 acres) on which to settle his people. This area effectively covers the central city of present-day Auckland.

It is important to recognise the magnanimity of Ngati Whatua in granting Governor Hobson and his people the opportunity to establish a settlement that would flourish socially and economically.

The background to Ngati Whatua’s grant to Hobson is given in the Hillary Lecture 2001, available on the Auckland Museum’s website.

The lecture, Land and Identity in Tamaki: A Ngati Whatua Perspective, was delivered by the late Sir Hugh Kawharu, former Professor of Anthropology and Maori Studies at the University of Auckland.


Although Maori were keen traders, they did not regard land as something to be bought and sold. Sir Hugh says: “Philosophically, at least, it was land that possessed the people. Land was a medium for building and maintaining relationships.”

He gives examples to illustrate this latter point. In the 1830s, Ngati Whatua gave land to neighbouring tribes to strengthen alliances with them.

These gifts were not alienations of land. They were the granting of a right to use the assigned land while the mana or authority of the land remained with the donor group. In Maori terms, it was a “tuku” of the land. In European terms, one could say that a “tuku” is more like a lease than a sale.

When the receiving group moved away, the land returned to the givers. Also, while the receiving group was in occupation they would express their appreciation for the gift by showing respect for and consulting with those who held the mana of the land. Commonly, they gave their benefactors some share in the benefits they gained from the use the land.

On the other hand, those with the mana of the land had a duty to see that all who resided on their land were protected. A relationship of mutual benefit was established.

The 1830 grants to Ngati Whatua’s neighbours, like the later ones to Hobson, were significant and were known as “tuku rangatira” – gifts between chiefs. Sir Hugh explains the chiefs in making these “tuku” were acting as representatives of their people.

He says “such transfer of use rights in land was an effective and proven mechanism for establishing alliances – a mechanism, however, in which the underlying title remained with the donor group”.

In relation to Ngati Whatua, who extended their initial grant to a further 3237ha (8000 acres), it is not surprising they assumed and have continued to expect they would be involved as partners in setting directions for the city.

Dr Merata Kawharu outlined in a Herald article how Ngati Whatua have continuously sought to be involved in the governing boards and councils of the city.

Surely it is time for those of us of settler background to acknowledge Ngati Whatua of Orakei as the original and substantial benefactors to central Auckland, and welcome their input into the governing of our city so their intention of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship is fulfilled.

* Susan Healy, a Pakeha New Zealander of Irish, English and Cornish heritage, has a doctorate in Maori Studies from the University of Auckland.

MetroMag and Supercity

Metro‘s Simon Wilson: Cheerleading Rodney Hide’s Auckland “super city” power grab.

FOR sheer Pollyanna puffery, Simon Wilson’s “Why We Love Super City”, in the latest issue of Metro, takes some beating. The image of a perky cheerleader dominates Wilson’s text, and that is wholly appropriate. When your sub-heading is “Why Rodney Hide has got it right. Really.” – cheerleading is pretty obviously the name of the game.

It’s a pity really, because Wilson is usually a thoughtful writer, and not given to lending his support to the sort of PR glad-games currently being rolled out to justify one of the most audacious power-grabs in New Zealand’s political history.

The article begins with the picture of a region suffering from “economic underperformance, blighted urban planning and social dysfunction” – all of it, Wilson implies, the dystopic residue of incompetent “local fiefdoms”. He has to do this, of course, because if it could be proved that Auckland’s multiple afflictions (if they exist at all) are in no way the fault of its local authorities, then the whole rationale for Hide’s “Super-City” disappears.

But, this is precisely what Auckland’s history does; it completely explodes both Hide’s and the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance’s arguments for collapsing local democracy into regional “governance”. The city’s woes, going back to, and beyond, 1865, have almost always arisen out of Auckland businessmen’s determination to turn politics into profit.

Whether it be Thomas Russell, fomenting war with the Maori king to expedite his company’s land-grabbing; or the powerful “development” business nexus, which spawned the sprawling, car-dependent culture of post-war Auckland; or the mirror-glass speculators, who tore down what remained of the city’s graceful Victorian architecture in the deregulated 80s; it has always been that fateful combination of greed and ambition (both local and national) which made Greater Auckland so much less than it could have – should have – been.

Were the cities and boroughs of Auckland responsible for the motorway system which demolished so many thriving communities in the 1950s and 60s – or was that the work a handful of Auckland roading contractors and property developers, operating hand-in-glove with their National Party cronies in the Capital?

Was it Auckland’s local politicians who shut down the great manufacturing plants of south and west Auckland in the 1980s – or was the resulting “economic underperformance” and “social dysfunction” the legacy of the MPs for Mangere, Manurewa, Te Atatu and Auckland Central?

Was it the avarice of mayors and city councillors which saw the wealth of middle-class Aucklanders wiped out in the crash of ’87 – or was it the greed of the wide boys who drank at the Rogues Bar and worked for Equiticorp?

Was it the Auckland Regional Council which stalled the electrification of Auckland’s rail services for the past four years – or was that Michael Cullen and his Treasury advisers?

The key premise behind the Super City proposal is that Auckland’s local problems are the fault of Auckland’s local politicians – and it just ain’t true.

Wilson, as an editor of New Zealand history, and one of Metro’s senior writers, should know all this. So why is his article a history-free zone? Perhaps because it’s so much easier to declare, bluntly, and without the slightest supporting evidence, that: “The status-quo is not an option.”

But even if we accept that some sort of change is desirable, the more important question: “Why Rodney Hide’s version of change?”, is one that Wilson does not even begin to answer.

It’s all very well to play-up the Royal Commission’s emphasis on social, economic, environmental and cultural “well-being”, but the brute fact of the matter is that all of its “namby-pamby, feel-good sloganising” has been rejected by both the National and Act Parties. They have a very different set of priorities.

And before citing Singapore, Seattle, Glasgow and Barcelona as examples of “vibrant” urban economies, why didn’t Wilson do a little research into the nature of their governmental structures.

Rightly celebrated throughout the European Union as one of its most progressively governed cities, Glasgow, with a population of 580,690 citizens, is roughly comparable in size to the present City of Auckland. The similarities end there, however, because instead of Auckland’s 19, Glaswegians get to elect 79 city councillors – one councillor for every 7,350 citizens. Compare that “vibrant” and very democratic ratio with Rodney Hide’s one Super City councillor for every 65,000 citizens. Even Barcelona’s 1.6 million citizens, living under a municipal constitution drafted in 1960 by General Franco’s fascist regime, are entitled to 41 councillors (1:39,000).

What Wilson has either failed to understand, or refuses to acknowledge, is that the Auckland Super City has been designed by neo-liberals, for neo-liberals. From its very beginnings, as the brainchild of senior Auckland business leaders, it’s purpose has never been to generate the “social well-being” which the members of the Royal Commission so naively attempted to interpose in their report, but its opposite. What Rodney Hide and his backers want to see in their shining Super City on a hill, is that universal hallmark of neo-liberal success: growing income inequalities.

That’s why Hide is promoting the democratic obscenity of 20 councillors for 1.3 million citizens. (With eight of the 20 elected “at large”, an electoral option rejected by New Zealanders more than 20 years ago.) It’s why he’s promoting 20-30 powerless “community councils”, rather than the four, more influential, “city councils” recommended by the Royal Commission. It also explains his vehement opposition to special Maori representation, and why the straightforward, democratic, expedient of taking the 75 councillors currently representing the four major cities of the Auckland region, and putting them under the roof of a single chamber, simply wouldn’t occur to him. Why not? Because, fundamentally, neo-liberalism and democracy are incompatible.

In his final paragraph, Wilson quotes the Royal Commission’s vision statement, noting approvingly its preference for “an integrated sustainable approach” and its wish that the city’s business be “actively and effectively managed … in a responsible way”. But this is the bloodless language of corporate bureaucracy – not popular democracy. Nowhere in his article, and in spite of all his condescending concern for the “common folk”, does Wilson acknowledge that it is their right to self-government – not good governance – that is at stake for Auckland’s 1.3 million citizens.

A Super City Council of Aucklanders, by Aucklanders, for Aucklanders.

All Aucklanders.

“Who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t think we need it? And who seriously thinks we’ve got it already?”

This commentary was originally published in The Independent of Thursday, 4 June 2009.