8 Jul 2009

MPs challenged over Maori seats on super-city

6:04 pm on 8 July 2009

MPs have been challenged to provide answers to Maori over the issue of governance on Auckland's super-city.

Five Maori MPs chaired by National's Tau Henare heard submissions from the public at a sub-select committee hearing at Orakei marae in Auckland.

It is the first time such a hearing has been held. An open forum was held in the afternoon.

Ngati Whatua leader Joe Hawke told MPs on Wednesday that Maori are unhappy with the number of unanswered questions about the super-city.

Mr Hawke says more consultation and dialogue is needed over how Maori will be represented and criticised the lack of notice given to him about the meeting.

The National Government has previously rejected a Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommendation that the super-city council have three seats reserved for Maori.

Mr Henare would not be drawn on whether elected Maori seats are likely to become a reality.

However, he said the select committee members have been surprised at the number of submissions over the past week which are in support of Maori seats.

On Tuesday, the Auckland Regional Council, the Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association, and iwi Ngati Whatua made submissions supporting the inclusion of Maori seats on the super-council.

Mr Henare says the hearings on Wednesday were not a public relations exercise designed to give lip service to Maori and it is important that Parliament used the select committee process to get onto the marae to hear from Maori.