5 Local Government hijack

The Local Government Act 2002
Paragraph 4 of the Local Government Act 2002 has a treaty clause which says “in order to recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to take appropriate account of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and to maintain and improve opportunities for Maori to contribute to local government decision-making processes, Parts 2 and 6 provide principles and requirements for local authorities that are intended to facilitate participation by Maori in local authority decision-making processes”. Part 2 states the purpose, role, and powers of local government, and part 6 defines the role of Maori in decision making. There is a pointer to schedule 10 which requires a statement in any long term plan of steps being made by the local authority to build Maori capacity.

Paragraph 81 in Part 6 says a local authority must (a) establish and maintain processes to provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority; (b) consider ways in which it may foster the development of Maori capacity to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority; and (c) provide relevant information to Maori for the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b).

The Act does not over-ride the requirements on councils specified under other statutes, including the Resource Management Act 1991, the Historic Places Act 1993 and the Biosecurity Act 1993, which each have their own requirements for councils to consult with Māori.


Maori wards and seats
Separate Maori representation in local government has existed since 2001, when the Environment Bay of Plenty regional council established three Maori seats according to the terms of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Act 2001. Maori roll voters may only vote for candidates standing in those seats.

The former Human Rights Commissioner, Joris De Bres, wrote to all councils in 2011 asking them to consider the question of Maori seats in their three-yearly representation review. In response, three councils – the Nelson City Council, the Wairoa District Council, and the Waikato District Council – agreed to start the process of establishing Maori seats. Affected electors were entitled to demand a poll, which they did, and which resulted in a clear-to-overwhelming vote against Maori seats and wards. The results:

Waikato District Council, April 2012, 79.2 percent against.

Nelson City Council, May 2012, 79.4 percent against.

Wairoa District Council, May 2012, 51.89 percent against.

The Waikato Regional Council added, in August 2012, two Maori constituencies to six general wards voters at the 2013 local body elections. The decision was made by council and there was no request for a poll. A total of 14 regional councillors were elected from six general and two Maori constituencies. The northern Maori seat covering Hamilton city and Waikato district is called Nga Hau e Wha (the four winds) while the Maori seat covering Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako, Waipa, Otorohanga, Waitomo, South Waikato and parts of Taupo and Rotorua districts will be called Nga Tai ki Uta (from coastal to inland).

Meanwhile, opposition to a push for separate Maori seats continued.

Hauraki District Council, May 2013, 80.4 percent against.

Rotorua Lakes Council, November 2014, proposal rejected by the council.

The Far North District Council, March 2015, 68 percent against.

New Plymouth District Council, April 2015, 83 percent against.

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd lodged a complaint with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues against the New Zealand government for permitting such a poll. He also urged Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell to present a petition to Parliament to set up Maori wards on every district council in New Zealand without requiring a public vote.


Tribal appointees on local authorities
The Independent Maori Statutory Board: Auckland almost had council seats reserved for Maori elected by Maori roll voters during the amalgamation of councils in the area in 2009. Facing stiff opposition from former Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, the Maori Party pushed for and got a Maori statutory board. This board comprises seven “mana whenua” members for Auckland Maori whose iwi are in Auckland, and two “mataawaka” seats to represent those whose iwi are based elsewhere. Board members sit with voting rights, granted by over-zealous councillors, on 14 of Auckland Council’s 18 council committees as well as on other steering groups and panels.

The selection of mataawaka board members ended up in court in 2015 with a challenge by Willie Jackson’s National Urban Maori Authority. The High Court voided the selection of Tony Kake because the panel couldn’t show it had given proper consideration to the nomination of Jackson. One bigger problem involved a scheme to require cultural impact assessments in building projects involving earthworks on or within 50 metres of a site or place of value to mana whenua. The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan listed over 3600 scheduled sites of value. Eventually, the full Auckland council voted against including these sites of significance in the plan.

Mayoralty contender Phil Goff announced as part of his campaign in 2016 that he would push for Maori seats on the Auckland Council.

Maori boards in amalgamation schemes: The former Local Government Commission chair Basil Morrison, who was a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, led, from 2013 to 2015, a series of attempted council amalgamations that included a Maori board comprising tribal appointees. Heated opposition in Northland, and Wellington-Wairarapa meant the attempts in those areas did not proceed. An attempt in Hawke’s Bay proceeded to a vote in September 2015 but was defeated by a 66 percent vote against. The main reason these proposals failed was not so much the inclusion of Maori boards but more that they failed to appreciate the depth of feeling in communities of interest around existing local authorities.

The Te Arawa Partnership Plan: A push for a special tribal deal on the Rotorua Lakes Council began when the council lost an appeal in the Environment Court in May 2013, and was strongly criticized for “a significant dysfunction between council and iwi in the area.” This led to a $30,000 “cultural audit”, the results of which have not been published. The Rotorua council rejected Maori wards in November 2014, avoiding a poll. Instead, with local tribe Te Arawa, the council created the Te Arawa Partnership plan, which was approved in May 2015 despite heavy opposition. Accordingly, two representatives nominated by a new elected Te Arawa board sit on the council’s two main committees with voting rights.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Planning Committee: Northern Hawke's Bay tribe Ngati Pahauwera had a co-governance regional planning committee written into its treaty settlement in 2011. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson approached the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council with two options. Either set up a co-governance board for each river in the region along the lines of the Waikato River settlement, or, set up a single committee to cover all natural resources in the region. The regional council opted for the latter proposal.

The regional planning committee comprises 10 councillors and 10 iwi appointees with two chairs, one appointed by the council and one by iwi. (The council only has nine councillors so a special councillor appointment must be made to make up the numbers.) The committee was set up under the Hawke's Bay Regional Planning Committee that was passed in 2015, although the committee was operational since 2011. The tribal appointees represent nine treaty settlement groups in Hawke's Bay. The appointees are full voting committee members.

Appointees on other councils: The Masterton District Council voted on May 4, 2016, to appoint representatives from Wairarapa's two iwi, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitane o Wairarapa, each with speaking and voting rights, to its policy and finance, and audit and risk, committees. They also have speaking rights at full council meetings, which ratify the recommendations from the two standing committees.

The Kapiti District Council has a partnership agreement with local tribes Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai, Nga Hapu o Otaki (Ngati Raukawa), and Ngati Toa Rangatira, and may appoint a Māori representative to each of the council’s three major standing committees.

The greater Wellington Regional Council, made up of 13 regional councillors representing six constituencies, has a partnership agreement with six tribes living in the area -- Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Rangitane o Wairarapa. Appointees to the tribal forum known as Ara Tahi have unspecified involvement with the council’s natural resource management committee, standing committees, technical working groups as required, and resource consent hearings.

The Whangarei District Council has a Te Karearea, which is a strategic partnership forum with Maori groups in the area.


Local Government NZ signs agreement with iwi leaders
Local Government New Zealand signed, on August 6, 2015, a memorandum of understanding with the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group, on behalf of the Iwi Chairs Forum, to support and encourage strong relationships and collaboration between councils and iwi. The memorandum identified “matters of common strategic significance which include economic development, environment, infrastructure, employment, social issues, health, housing and energy and local democratic representation and decision-making” Local Government New Zealand has published a substantial amount of information about the ways Maori and local government collaborate and interact. This information may be accessed by clicking HERE.



SUMMARY

Maori Wards/Seats
Bay of Plenty, where three Maori seats were established in 2001

The Waikato Regional Council added, in August 2012, two Maori constituencies to six general wards voters at the 2013 local body elections.

In 2016, the Wairoa District Council introduced such wards for at least the two next elections.


Maori Appointments
The Masterton District Council in May 2016 approved the appointment of unelected iwi representatives, with voting rights, to its standing committees.

Representatives from Wairarapa's two iwi, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitane o Wairarapa, were appointed, each with speaking and voting rights, to its policy and finance, and audit and risk, committees. (2016)


Maori Committees
The Hawke’s Bay Regional Planning Committee Act, comprises 10 councillors and 10 iwi appointees with two chairs, one appointed by the council and one by iwi. The appointees are full voting committee members. 2012

The Te Arawa Partnership plan (Rotorua), which was approved in May 2015 despite heavy opposition. Accordingly, two representatives nominated by a new elected Te Arawa board will sit on the council’s two main committees with voting rights.


Auckland Statutory Board
The Maori Party pushed for and got a nine-member Maori statutory board as part of the Auckland Council amalgamation in 2009.


Council-Iwi participation agreements
A stocktake of council-iwi participation agreements posted on the Local Government New Zealand website shows an array of agreements on all but six of the nation’s 78 local bodies. The Waipa District Council in Waikato has six such agreements. Six councils in the South Island have no such agreements