27 Aug 2008

No Maori seat on Auckland City Council

2:01 pm on 27 August 2008

Maori hopes for guaranteed representation on the Auckland City Council have been quashed - at least until 2010.

Waatea News reports the council's Finance & Strategy Committee has voted against bringing in either separate Maori wards or a Single Transferable Vote system.

Hauraki Gulf Ward councillor Denise Roche says a lot of Maori live in Auckland city and they need a guaranteed voice at the table where decisions are made.

The first-term member, who is affiliated to Tainui, Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Huri, says most councillors refuse to acknowledge the special status of Maori.

She says it may require intervention, either by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance or by central government, to force councils to take their Treaty responsibilities seriously.

Councillor Roche says the move by the finance and strategy committee is a "slap in the face" and shows the council is scared to engage with Maori.

She says it is vital a directly elected Maori voice is heard at council.

However, Councillor Aaron Bhatnagar defends the vote, saying there is already adequate representation. He does not believe race-based seats are healthy.

Mr Bhatnagar also says there is Maori representation on council and cites Ms Roche as an example.

But she says she was elected from a general seat.