By Dr Muriel Newman NZCPR

The Maori Party intends using their power base to exploit a loophole in the long standing law that provides that Maori representation at local government level is subject to approval by the community.

Section 19Z of the Local Electoral Act 2001 gives local authorities the right to establish Maori seats. Section 19ZB provides a democratic safeguard by enabling electors at large to challenge that decision through a binding poll. No such provisions apply when unelected Maori representatives are appointed onto councils with voting rights, despite the effects being almost the same.

The Auckland Council’s Independent Maori Statutory Board, the brainchild of the Maori Party, was established against the will of the community to give unelected iwi voting rights on council committees. Even though such boards are grossly undemocratic – forcing the council to share their power with unelected race-based representatives who are not accountable to the wider community and cannot be removed from office – MP Pita Sharples wants to establish them throughout the country: “The Maori Party will continue to push for more mechanisms like this to ensure that Maori are participating and having a say at all levels of governance.”

Maori Party leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, agrees: “We’re looking at trying to have more effective Maori representation at the highest level, pretty much along the lines of the Auckland statutory board whereby there is a need that Maori have a space at that council table and all the resources that go with that.”

Mr Flavell has also weighed into the debate in Rotorua, where a faction within the council are working with iwi to appoint representatives with voting rights onto council committees – without even consulting with the wider community, let alone allowing them the right to have a poll. He says that Te Arawa needs a greater say in the running of the Rotorua District Council, including having the power to authorise the flying of the tino rangatiratanga flag on Waitangi Day.

Imposing Maori boards on local councils throughout the country, by denying locals the right to a poll, is likely to be one of the coalition demands of the Maori Party should they hold the balance of power following the 20 September election. Yet, manipulating local government, to the exclusive advantage of iwi – at the cost of equal treatment of all citizens – compromises representative democracy and the principle of one-person one-vote, to such an extent that the legitimacy of government is fundamentally undermined.

The power base created by the Maori seats is also being used to fuel the notion of race-based superiority. Te Ururoa Flavell states that the needs of Maori must be put ahead of the needs of others: “Maori have a unique position in New Zealand and advancing their cultural and social needs must be put ahead of the needs of immigrants”. When asked whether Maori are more important than anyone else, he said, “Possibly. I think that the most important thing is that the people of the country recognise our unique part in the fabric of this nation. As the indigenous people of New Zealand, the government should put the needs of Maori ahead of new migrants.”

According to their submission to the government’s constitutional review, the Maori Party believes their superior status springs from the Maori seats: “the Maori seats embody and enable the principle of partnership between the Treaty partners”.

Using the Maori seats to justify a “partnership”, to promote Maori privilege and undermine democracy, is a significant departure from their original purpose of enabling Maori participation in the democratic process.

Their submission also makes it clear that they want local government to become a “Treaty partner” – no doubt to gain access to the considerable resources held by local authorities, as well as to legitimise their demand for race-based representation on councils: “The Maori Party considers that the constitutional arrangements for local government should recognise that local government is a Treaty partner”, and “Maori representation should be guaranteed on local government bodies”.

These Maori supremacist views were echoed in many other submissions to the constitutional review. In the interest of open democracy (and thanks to the sterling effort of Denis McCarthy of the NZCPR Working Group Project) a summary of the 5,259 submissions published on the Constitutional Advisory Panel’s website is now available. The report on the Analysis of Submissions to the Constitutional Advisory Panel is this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentary – see HERE. It should be read in conjunction with the Official Information Act submission breakdown provided by the Ministry of Justice, which NZCPR Research Associate Mike Butler summarised HERE.

This Working Group Project report outlines the arguments promoted in both group and individual submissions. Many group submissions were the result of hui organised by the Constitutional Advisory Panel – including the Rotorua Regional hui, which recommended: “Local councils have designated Maori seats and councillors should consult with iwi on a regular basis on the marae; compulsory enrolment of Maori on the Maori Electoral Roll; Treaty principles and articles to be protected and entrenched; a written constitution to be based on Treaty principles; education on the Treaty of Waitangi to be compulsory in schools; Bill of Rights Act to include the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Many groups wanted the Maori seats entrenched, the Maori language to be compulsory in schools, and the courts to have power over Parliament. Some of the more radical ideas included the right to bear arms against the government, Maori to have equal representation in Parliament and local government, and the Governor General to be replaced by a College of Hapu.

The majority of individual submissions sought the removal of race-based rights, rejected proposals to give the Treaty of Waitangi legislative authority, and called for the abolition of the Maori seats (our earlier research showed 79 percent of submitters opposed Maori seats in Parliament, and 71 percent opposed Maori representation in local government).

In reality, the Maori seats should have been abolished years ago. Set up as a temporary measure in 1867, they gave Maori men, who didn’t qualify to vote under the private property requirements of the day, voting rights – 12 years ahead of non-Maori men, who didn’t gain voting rights until the adoption of male suffrage in 1879. The Maori seats should have been abolished at that time – or in 1893, when universal suffrage was introduced.

The 1986 Royal Commission on the Electoral System recommended the Maori seats should be abolished if MMP was introduced – to avoid a disproportionate representation of Maori in Parliament. When the MMP legislation was tabled, there were no provisions for Maori seats, but as a result of strong advocacy and weak politicians, the Maori seats were reintroduced – this time, tied to the Maori electoral option, which resulted in the number of seats increasing from four to 7, leading to the predicted over-representation of Maori in Parliament.

With every public opinion poll showing voters want an end to race-based representation, there is an expectation that when the Treaty settlements are completed, the Maori seats will go. Since South Island settlements have now been completed, with the balance expected to be finalised over the next three years, Election 2017 should be the first election in almost 150 years where all New Zealanders are on the same electoral roll.

With the Maori seats now being used to blatantly manipulate democracy, pressure needs to be brought to bear on politicians and parties in the run up to the election to support their abolition.

And before you think that contacting politicians is a pointless exercise, you should reflect on a recent comment by MP Jamie Lee Ross, who described how the National Party had put in a submission on Auckland’s Proposed Unitary Plan opposing iwi consultation because “more than two dozen Botany residents have approached him concerned about the issue and ‘any more than about 10 people who contact me on a particular issue is quite a number’.”

In other words, the advocacy of concerned citizens had an effect. Elected representatives do listen – and more attentively in election year.


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11 thoughts on “The Maori Party intends using their power base to exploit a loophole

  1. Dr Newman sums up very succinctly just what is going on slowly behind our backs. Maori are attempting to secure an equal partnership in the running of our country which will ultimately see them be in a position where New Zealand cannot make a decision on any matters affecting us as country, domestically and internationally, without Maori approval. If you are not Maori or cannot claim some distant Maori blood you should be frightened. Very frightened!

  2. Well said, Jamie-Lee Ross! Democracy at work. Now we want the National Party to act on this, as well as the Auckland City Council.

    1. National and Auckland City Council, their bureaucrats and hopeless politicians are major parts of the problem. Between them, they have implemented the most radical systems and structures to shift power and public assets away from “the people” to these private, self-interest groups. They have gone a long way towards securing a 2-pronged government: one arm elected, one arm self-appointed and both able to impose rules, obligations and taxes on we serfs.

  3. Thanks for all the work you and your colleagues have done on this, Muriel. It’s highly informative, though discouraging to see once again Maori leaders with their hands out to receive favours. What will they give to the local bodies they insist on “representing”? I long to see them giving of themselves and acting to haul their less flourishing brethren up the economic ladder instead of seeking advantages for themselves alone.

    Sharples says he wants “to ensure that Maori are participating and having a say at all levels of governance.” It sounds good, but the only Maori participants will be, again, the elite, and the dregs of those once-great tribes will see no help from their racial leaders. Once more, it will be up to their white conquerors to take care of their needs.

  4. It’s long overdue to determine exactly who is a Maori. How can someone who has more than half ‘other’ ancestry be a Maori? Actually it’s just so ridiculous all this ‘Maori’ stuff. We have blended together for so long now that we are all people of many ancestries and should just be New Zealanders. I want to see an end to Maori privilege everywhere and in all aspects of our lives.

    What on earth can Maori Statutory Boards achieve, that can’t be achieved without them? All this invented touchy feely stuff is so ridiculous when you look at how they were living in 1840 with constant wars, cannibalism, etc etc. If they hadn’t been stopped, they would have been extinct long ago. They didn’t worry too much about the flora, fauna etc all those years ago and just rode roughshod over it all.

    1. Great observation Helen… History shows for sure that ‘maori’ were well down the track of ‘Self-Genocide.’

  5. How well the Maori people looked after the wild life before the white settlers arrived approx 300yrs later can be seen in the numbers of species that had been completely obliterated. The Maori people have enough trouble looking after themselves with out saying they want more say on other peoples welfare. They need to take a look at the crime statistics and put more thought to sorting themselves out first before worrying about other matters. If the Europeans had not arrived here when they did we would not be having these problems as they would have killed and eaten each other. I have had enough of this Maori nonesense and the fact is we are showing our intelligence by allowing them to blatantly do what they please. Lets stand up and be counted. More votes required for One law4all.

  6. If Auckland is just becoming threatened by this nonsense then please be aware that this practice has been in place elsewhere for up to 10 years. In our region the resource consents have a section where the consultation with Maori is required to be detailed before the consent can be processed. It is stated by the Council Planners that it is a part of the Treaty of Waitangi and that non-compliance will result in ‘consequences’. The costs can be quite high, often between $1,000 and $2,500. No proof is offered about what is on site or discovered in the site visit and surveillance of the works. A pensioner building a $2,500 carport can be expected to pay almost as much again for compliance. Nobody complains as it is easier to pay than take unspecific risks for non-compliance. The problem starts with our politicians at both local and central government. They are gutless and ill-informed. Only the voter can change that unfortunate situation.

  7. And it aint gonna stop there, folks! Read and weep . . .

    Council pulls plug on One Tree Hill athletic event

    A popular junior running race at a public park has been cancelled after local iwi raised concerns. A spokesman for Auckland Council said in the past year a collective of local iwi had made their concerns clear about “the effects of running events on such sensitive land. The cancellation was because 200 participants running around off-track would impact on the fabric of the maunga.” (maunga = mountain) Did you know that mountains have fabrics? Sounds like pagan mumbo jumbo, to me.

    Animism, anyone?

  8. RE: Simple Simon, what an excellent link, and makes me ask the question, the iwi involved here raise a valid point…YEA RIGHT, and just leaves me pondering down here in Hawkes Bay that maybe I need to get a petition started to try and put a halt to our annual “IRONMAORI” event as this too would be having a detrimental effect on our environment.

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