HBRC Councillors

And do you know where your Regional Councillors stand on the issue?

On Wednesday (Feb 24th), the HB Regional Council pulled back from its previous position on dedicated Maori seats, which was to conduct a region-wide non-binding poll on the matter in conjunction with the October 2022 local body elections.

With the Government advancing legislation that would put the kabosh on binding polls to affirm (or not) councils’ decisions to create Maori wards, HBRC decided informally to abandon its poll, then officially ratified that consensus at its Council meeting.

Instead, between now and May 21st (when a decision must be made if dedicated seats are to be created for the 2022 election), the Regional Council decided to ‘pretend’ consult with the Hawke’s Bay community on this fundamental governance question.

The proposal just adopted Wednesday by HBRC commits the Council to: “Undertake community engagement and consultation on a proposal to establish one or more constituencies, including public submissions, to enable a substantive decision on whether to establish those constituencies before 21 May 2021.”

There was even talk of squeezing in hearings before the Council.

So why do I term this a ‘pretend’ consultation?

Because four of nine councillors have already indicated their unwavering support for Maori seats – Rex Graham, Rick Barker, Martin Williams and Charles Lambert. No amount of ‘consultation’ is going to sway their views.

The other five councillors have not made their final call – Hinewai Ormsby, Neil Kirton, Jerf van Beek, Craig Foss and Will Foley.

You can read here the views of most of these councillors as given to BayBuzz earlier this month. Then place your bets on the outcome.

Today’s action means that the ‘committed four’ have not yet secured the magic fifth vote. And on the other hand the ‘hesitant five’ are not (yet?) prepared to reject the proposition.

This division reflects how vexing and multi-dimensional this issue really is … and why the public fully deserves to be heard.

Today, each of the Councillors has personal views. But not one of the nine has a mandate to say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Mike Paku, one of two Maori non-voting representatives on the Council, lamented that in passing the ‘consultation’ resolution the Councillors were not voicing their own “guidance” on how they felt the matter should be resolved. And indeed, there was no substantive discussion of the issue at all. Clearly in their ‘informal’ discussions the party line had been clearly drawn.

However, unable to restrain himself, Councillor Barker – absolutely the most zealous supporter of Maori seats – spoke to explain exactly what that party line was (I paraphrase):  

If we’re going to pretend to consult, each of us must pretend to have no view.

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20 Comments

  1. This article is not based on the facts but misinformation. The consultation of the community on Maōri seats is imperative. That said, we must move on the journey to racial equity. Since its inception as a Borough Council in 1874, do you know how many Māori councillors Napier has produced? A grand total of 3 Māori councillors. Let’s debate the issues and have an intelligent discourse about racial equity instead of getting bogged down in pettiness.

  2. I was there yesterday. Mike Paku was the only Maori Voice that challenged the Councillors, the rest danced around or didnt commit either way. Rick Barker only validated the Dancing.
    Councillors are Elected to Represent. Matua Mike was correct. No In-House Leadership.
    Maori Wards need to be created. Robust, Informed and Transparent ones.

  3. It is time we stopped all this crap if you wishto be a Councillor then get electedike everyone else there should be no Maori Wards at all it is creating more racism and it needs to stop. At present there is a move by government to give Maori any thing they want and the Waitangi Tribunal is also pushing for that to happen we are all New Zealanders and should all be equal.

  4. Call me old fashioned but I think the people in the Council should be the best suited and qualified people we can get. I don’t care what their skin colour is, what genitals they have or if they’re descendants from lords, royalty or chiefs.
    If you want to be on the Council, do some good in the community, show you have some expertise and experience and making good decisions.

  5. I strongly support the creation of a seat for Maori on the Regional Council via the creation of a Maori ward. Tangata Whenua must be involved at the governance level.

  6. If you want dedicated Maori councillors keep the status quo and add say 2 or 3 wards covering the whole region – allow only those who want to vote exactly the same as per the general elections and live with the system – why does it have to be some sort of terrible “us vs them” situation. Do it and let’s have the Council get on with more important things like the environment and pollution – both of which are in dire need of action!

  7. Needed information on how these Maori wards will look/work and how many members? Are they co opted and how does Hinewai feel when she got her role on merit? Do you believe this will increase voter participation in future local body elections?
    It is so easy to bandy about the words Maori Wards now please inform and empower your community.

  8. what advantage over the current status quo will the creation of Maori wards bring to the population ( ratepayers) of Greater Hawke Bay?

  9. The current council is, with 2 tangata whenua members, representative of the proportion of Maori as against the rest of the population. That is how it ought to be, and so one could easily assume that the current system works. It pays to remember that this is the only time it has been like this. Which means it is a rare alignment of reality. To maintain this balance will require Maori wards in the future
    There is no further debate needed.

  10. I think the council should be elected representatives based on their performance and what skills they bring to the table, not based solely on race. Doesn’t that make us a racist society if we make any decisions on any situation race based. We have never had a fairer society than when we elect people whether govt or local govt based on skills, or is making it mandatory to have a certain number of Maori on council / wards an indication that they can’t make it on a skills basis? Surely that can’t be the case.

  11. I support racial equality, so no special treatment for anyone, the democracy when everyone could be represented by their leadership qualities, not by race.
    If you wish to be on the council then go through the same process as everyone else that wish to be part of the council, no one has the right to just be placed there because of their ethnic group. This is like some racial separatism that leads to apartheid within are country.

  12. The concept of Maori seats is by definition racist because it’s determining an outcome on the basis of race. To argue that it “promotes racial equality” is simply absurd. If that were the case then surely we’d need to consider the other races that make up our NZ society and give them access to seats – Asian, Islander etc.

    I fear the move to emphasise racial differences will ultimately backfire. We should be moving away from race and toward one people, albeit with different cultural backgrounds. Equal rights. No racial group should be given special rights. To do so invites racial comparison and competition.

  13. Maori wards are an insult to my people . They state that Maori are not good enough to get the non Maori vote. I don’t want a leader because they are Maori I want a leader because they show the propertys characteristics and vision of a leader as a great man once said ” I have a dream that one day a man will not be judged by the colour of his skin but by the contents of his character” if we have Maori wards this dream will fall

  14. It is about time the general public we’re exactly aware what this all means. I thought we heeded a democracy ? Please advise thank you.

  15. It is truly disappointing – and extremely sad, that politics and constituencies are getting in the way of the road to justice. This is about equity – not equality.

  16. This is racism pure and simple
    The Maori Council have made it plain they expect a partnership with 50% of votes. Its non Maori supporters only need 1 Maori ward to do what they want
    As non Maori make up 85% of the population that means 1 Maori voter would be worth over 5 non Maori voters
    How on earth is this democracy

  17. The Treaty guarantees that Maori would retain tino rangatiratanga, but that was never honoured. Parliament and local councils never included Maori in their decision making, in fact quite the opposite. The result is that Maori were marginalised, many lost contact with their culture and have become 2nd class citizens in this country. This much should be obvious looking at the statistics. Maori must be given a place on the council where their voice can be heard and included in all decisions, as promised in the Treaty. True democracy is not a system where the majority make the decisions and the minority just have to suck it up, but a system where all voices are heard.

  18. Keith Symonds I believe in our modern day democracy ALL NZers have a chance/option to be involved in a true democratic system in this country and there is a process that all must follow. As L Watts(above) has mentioned we need so much more info on how wards/ seats will look and work. Yes Maori do need to be involved as do disabled and other marginalised groups but the same process of selection for all must be the same to be truly democratic.

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