By Michael Coote on NZCPR
Auckland’s unfortunate political experiment in having an Independent Maori Statutory Board is being held up as a model for the rest of New Zealand’s fragmented local bodies considering amalgamation into unitary authorities.
Under the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009, the amalgamated city of Auckland wound up with a tripartite local authority structure comprised of an overarching elected governing council, 21 underlying local boards elected by their communities, and the racial gerrymander of the appointed Independent Maori Statutory Board.
The Board owes its existence to an expedient deal between prime minister John Key and former Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples when it became obvious separate Maori seats on the restructured Auckland Council were a non-starter.
Mr Key was then assiduously practising appeasement towards the Maori Party in order keep it within the tent of his shaky coalition government.
He has since learned the hard but predictable way through various kicks in the teeth in critical Parliamentary votes that wallowing in Maori politics can be a thankless task.
The principal qualification for belonging to the Key-Sharples affront to elective democracy the Independent Maori Statutory Board represents is that board members must be part-Maori, with claims to being either mana whenua (Auckland tribal) or mataawaka (non-Auckland tribal).