27 Dec 2010

Two Maori voting members on all council committees

8:00 pm on 27 December 2010

Maori are to have two members on all committees of the new Auckland Council.

The Government rejected a proposal to allow Maori directly elected seats on the council.

Instead it set up an independent Maori Statutory Board - able to have up to two votes on committees that deal with natural and physical resources.

Board chairman David Taipari says legal advice supported its view that all committees, panels and forums meet those criteria.

The board's appointments go to a council committee next month.

Auckland Council came into being on 1 November, after a merger of eight previous councils.

Balance of power 'may be shifted'

The Citizens and Ratepayers Association says having two Maori members on all committees of the Auckland Council could shift the balance of power on key decisions.

Former Mayor Chris Fletcher says the move is an appropriate way to make sure Maori are represented but could have the effect of shifting the balance of power in situations where votes are very close.

Ms Fletcher says a good example of this is a debate over the level of rates earlier this month, which was very close.

AUT Local Government Centre director Peter McKinlay says the board's decision may surprise many.

He says it is possible the Government may not have intended to have created such wide powers.