24 Aug 2010

Maori local govt involvement reassessment urged

7:55 am on 24 August 2010

The Human Rights Commissioner says the local government elections are a chance to reassess the level of Maori representation on councils.

Joris de Bres says it is disappointing that after legislation was implemented 10 years ago to allow for specific Maori representation, only one local authority has such a system in place.

To find out why, the Commission surveyed other councils last month. The results showed that while most had considered Maori seats, only one had decided to work towards introducing them.

Mr de Bres says that is disappointing and if there is no change in the level of Maori involvement in the upcoming local body elections, it may be time to look at new ways to increase Maori interest.

Maori MP Te Ururoa Flavell says he hears the same views in central Government.

Both men believe that without a sea change in public understanding, a Maori seat system will take a very long time to be widely accepted.