27 Aug 2009

Labour to seek mandatory Maori super-council seats

3:25 pm on 27 August 2009

The Labour Party will try to make changes to a bill in Parliament to ensure Maori seats are mandatory on the new Auckland super-council.

The party's Maori caucus has tabled an amendment that would guarantee Maori seats on the single council, which comes into being in 2010.

On Monday, the Cabinet rejected the idea of Maori seats, sparking outrage from some Maori Party MPs.

The amendment means the number of Maori seats on the new council would be allocated according to the number of people on the Maori roll.

Labour leader Phil Goff says Auckland needs the same sort of Maori representation that there is in central government.

Labour says it has spoken to the Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples about the amendment and says further discussions are planned.

Group to urge reconsideration

A group of Auckland City Council members has broken ranks with the Mayor John Banks and the majority council view to call for Maori seats on the super-council.

On Friday the six councillors will ask Local Government Minister Rodney Hide to reconsider his stance on the issue.

Local Government NZ Auckland and Northland area chair Richard Northey says the new council needs the confidence of all sectors, including Maori.

Mr Northey says it is not an additional vote or voice for Maori, but a way of overcoming the record of only eight Maori councillors on the Auckland City Council in 138 years.