26 May 2009

PM 'open to views' on Auckland Maori seats

9:43 pm on 26 May 2009

Prime Minister John Key says a hikoi in Auckland has not changed his mind about Maori seats on the new super-city council, but he is still open to hearing views on the issue.

About 7000 people converged in Queen Street, bringing central Auckland to a standstill on Monday afternoon, to push for guaranteed Maori seats on the new single council, and a referendum.

Mr Key says nothing is off the table until the legislation is drafted, and the public has yet to have its say through the select committee process.

He says the hikoi has not caused him to rethink the decision to not include Maori seats on the council.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has said that while the final decision on the issue of Maori representation rests with the Government, the hikoi has not changed his mind on the issue.

However Mr Hide told Morning Report the idea of a separate Maori body to consult with the super-city council is being examined by the Maori Party and Te Puni Kokiri.

Ngapuhi Chairmain Sonny Tau says Maori would not be happy with that idea, and will continue to push for representation on the council.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, who took part in the hikoi, is optimistic there will be Maori representation.