HB Regional Councillor Hinewai Ormsby has absorbed a heap of attack from the Maori community for her position advocating robust public education and consultation prior to action being taken regarding the possibility of dedicated Maori seats on HBRC.
Those attacking her wanted Councillors to mandate the seats by their own vote for the next local body election. If that had been done, a petition by 5% of HBRC voters could have demanded a binding Poll on the issue.
As the matter now stands, HBRC has voted to conduct a Poll on the matter at the next local body election in October 2022, which is the position she advocated.
Although – on that timetable – decision time is far away, the Government has indicated it intends to remove the current requirement for a public referendum to endorse Maori seats on local bodies, which might re-table the matter for Regional Councillors sooner.
In the meantime, Councillor Ormsby endures unfair abuse. For that reason, here are two letters published recently in HB Today that support her approach, which many BayBuzz readers will not have seen.
Debate on this issue will most likely be heated. Councillor Ormsby has advocated that the debate in fact occur, rather than be pre-empted by Councillors … a move that would have proved even more inflammatory.
Open letter from Mat Mullany
E te Rangatira, Tēnā koe,
This letter concerns the most recent vote regarding Māori Wards on the HBRC.
Safeguarding Māori interests and demonstrating a tangible Council commitment to Te Tiriti via the proposal of establishing Māori Wards is both a regional and national issue. I applaud your efforts that demonstrate a willingness to form stronger partnerships and to progress a constructive agenda between the HBRC and tangata whenua. Long may they continue.
With respect, the execution of your strategy has unintentionally created a deep chasm within the Māori community.
I had hoped that that the voices of Māori would be united on an issue as important as this one. Unfortunately, as a result of the vote, Māori were split: one side advocating for accelerated progressive reform without robust community consultation and perhaps risking alienating the wider constituency and the other advocating not in opposition but for time to bridge understanding and build a greater consensus so that we can move forward stronger, together.
To her credit, Councillor Ormsby attempts to progress this stronger, together approach by leading calls for robust and transparent community consultation. It takes hard work, and at times can be misunderstood. We are seeing that some members of the Māori community, feel disillusioned and even abandoned by what they perceive as her stance in opposition to Māori wards. As a result of this, she has received vitriolic criticism, she has been labelled ‘a kupapa’ and considered by some perhaps as an obstacle to Māori interests in this region. This is not only a misperception; it couldn’t be further from the truth. By encouraging robust and respectful consultation, she creates space for greater understanding between members of differing perspectives, building a strong foundation that safeguards Māori long term interests.
I don’t believe there should be a conflict between progressing Māori interests and the interests of the wider community. Although this can be a delicate balancing act, we all benefit from having both. These are the ideals that we strive for as members of the Hawke’s Bay community and also apply to us all as New Zealanders.
Our current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern takes the view that “transformation is change that sticks.” In wānanga, Māori debate issues until consensus has been achieved. I urge you to take this same approach so that we can realise our collective goals for the region. This means getting out and doing the difficult business of taking our community with you so that we can move united as one.
Letter to the Editor from Denis O’Reilly
I voted for Hinewai Ormsby in the elections for the HB Regional Council.
Her femininity and Maoriness were undoubtedly factors, but the major reason for my vote was her demonstrated competence.
I find the demonization heaped upon her by her older male colleagues, and even more astonishingly by the tribal patriarchy, inexplicable.
Hinewai made a difficult political decision and eschewed popular dogma. She made an intelligent and, in my view, correct political analysis about what was sustainable. Hinewai Is doing exactly what we voted for her to do. Make difficult decisions, ensure sustainability, and keep us together rather than divided. Tatau tatau e.
As a Pakeha, I offer this. Hinewai Ormsby is a Maori woman. Simply by dint of population the voting ‘we’ was primarily Tangata Tiririti rather than Tangata Whenua. Hinewai was the highest polling candidate. She worked for every vote. She has the confidence of her constituency.
Mauri Ora Hinewai! Kia kaha.