5 Dec 2009

Harawira set to lead super-city Maori seats push

6:57 am on 5 December 2009

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira looks set to lead a campaign pushing for more Maori representation on the new Auckland super-city council.

The Government has ruled out having dedicated Maori seats on the council, despite the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommending it, and is proposing an independent Maori statutory board instead.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, the Maori Party's co-leader, says that's better than an advisory board but it's not enough.

He says the party wants Cabinet to change its mind and give Maori seats on the full council, and if it decides to mount a public campaign, then Mr Harawira will lead it.

Hui resolves to support Treaty case

Mr Harawira, who is on leave from Parliament after making a public apology for obscene and offensive language, was among about 50 people attending a hui of local and national Maori leaders in Auckland on Friday.

Organised by Iwi Have Influence (IHI), a group formed to protest against the Government's decision to dismiss the Royal Commission's recommendation, the hui was called to seek ways of securing seats on the super-city council.

Leaders at the hui resolved to support a Treaty of Waitangi case against the lack of Maori representation from the Auckland super-city council.

IHI member Rau Hoskins says the case will be lodged by Waiohua, one of the mana whenua iwi from Auckland.

He says the leaders want the Local Government Act to be amended, so guaranteed Maori representation becomes mandatory.

Waatea News reports that Dr Sharples told the hui Local Government Minister Rodney Hide was adamantly opposed to any Maori presence at all, and the board was the best that could be done in the circumstances.

Major iwi contemplating boycott

Two major iwi, Ngati Whatua and Tainui, are considering whether to boycott the proposed nine-member statutory board.

Ngarimu Blair, of Ngati Whatua o Orakei, describes it as a token gesture at best and no substitute for having Maori seats on the full council.

Mr Hide says he worked closely with Mr Sharples on the statutory board proposal, and he hopes that over time other Maori will see its merits.

The board will be able to appoint people to sit on Auckland Council committees that deal with the management and stewardship of natural and physical resources.