I was invited to give an “observers” view on current processes around “who speaks for Maori.” I would like to point out that the following comments are my own personal views and do not represent Council’s views, or the views of the HDC Maori Joint Committee.
I have been a member of the HDC Maori Joint Committee since I joined Council in 2007. The Committee comprises six Councillors and six members appointed by Council from among the Maori communities of Hastings District. The community members are appointed to provide a Maori perspective on issues before Council, and have added real value in helping Council to get its processes right. The terms of reference for the Committee include providing advice on the LTCCP, the District Plan and the Annual Plan; considering and recommending initiatives that will build the “capacity” of Maori; and providing direction to Council to ensure inclusive consultation processes are followed.
The question has been asked: “Who speaks for Maori?” Well, my answer is that Maori speak for Maori, just as Pakeha speak for Pakeha. Maori, like any other grouping in our society, consists of many diverse groups and communities. Each of these groups and communities has their own views on many things and speak for themselves, especially when discussing matters significant to their well-being. For district-wide issues and national issues, community groups then collect together and speak on those issues relating to Heretaunga, Hawke’s Bay, or Aotearoa New Zealand.
Maori are citizens in our broader society and also have the right to be represented by their elected local and central government representatives. People like me, and the Council as a whole, have a duty to ensure we understand the aspirations of Maori communities and the issues they face, so we can provide effective representation to deal with issues at all levels of the varied communities we represent.
The HDC Maori Joint Committee has no mandate to represent the view of any hapu or group, but it does have a mandate to direct and support the Council to better understand and represent Maori communities across our district. I am honoured to serve on the HDC Maori Joint Committee. The challenges facing Council and the Committee include strengthening Maori engagement with Council and increasing the involvement of Maori in RMA and other processes. I would certainly welcome more submissions from Maori during our community consultations.
In terms of district-wide social issues, I would also like to understand the Maori perspective on how we best address:
• The negative impact of drugs, alcohol and violence;
• Issues related to gangs;
• The water supply to small communities, including Maori communities, and the long term sustainable supply of water to all areas within the district;
• The desire to eliminate the need to demand any more Maori land;
• The need for long term, affordable heating solutions for homes, while ensuring the need to meet future air quality standards.
I will be working to make sure the Council supports the Committee to address these, and other, issues over the next year and beyond.