Sensible positions on Maori seats

August 20th, 2009 at 6:53 am by David Farrar

How nice to see disagreeing parties acting maturely on the issue of on the proposed .

are firmly against Maori seats and has said:

Mr Hide said he told Mr Key: “Just to be absolutely clear, you have got our support for supply and confidence but as a minister, as the Act leader, I couldn’t be responsible for introducing to the House a bill that would have reserve seats in it.”

And that is fair enough that you can’t expect a Minister to introduce a bill if they are opposed to a major section of it. But there is no NZ First type talk of walking away from Government if they do not get their way.

And the are being equally mature:

Maori Party co-leader said last night that she was disappointed at Mr Hide’s position but her party’s support for the Government would not change. “We always knew when we went into this arrangement with National that there would be issues that would take us right to the wire and this is one of them.

“But we have no intentions of withdrawing support for the Government and we have no intention of withdrawing our ministerial roles. That’s not what we went into the relationship for.”

It is inevitable that the Maori Party and ACT are not going to agree on everything, and that whatever National decides will disappoint one of them on this issue.

I believe the solution is easy, and has always been there. Parliament should not decide for Aucklanders whether or not to have Maori seats on the Auckland Council. The Local Government and Electoral Acts allows local voters to decide this by way of referendum. If Aucklanders wants Maori seats on the Auckland Council, they should petition for them (only needs 5%) and gain a majority in the referendum. Having Wellington impose Maori seats on Auckland is a very different issues to having Auckland decide for itself whether or not it wants Maori seats.

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50 Responses to “Sensible positions on Maori seats”

  1. andrei (2,664 comments) says:

    Of course this whole was stirred up now by Tau Henare’s agitation and leaks to the media.

    I wonder if that constitutes a “sensible position”?

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  2. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    “and that whatever National decides will disappoint one of them on this issue.”

    DPF There is only one decision National can make, and that’s the decision to remain consistent with this pre election policy on maori seats generally,
    Introducing separatist seats at any level of government would be an act of dishonesty

    “National to dump Maori seats in 2014. Leader John Key released Treaty negotiations, Maori affairs and electoral law policies yesterday. Under the first, the party wants to settle all historical Treaty settlements by 2014. The electoral policy would see the seven Maori seats abolished once that is accomplished”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/treaty-of-waitangi/news/article.cfm?c_id=350&objectid=10534713

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  3. annie (539 comments) says:

    The whole point of central government intervention to ensure Maori representation is surely to safeguard Maori representation from the ‘tyrrany of the majority’? The democratic system’s biggest flaw is that, in a society with non-homogeneous interests – such as a society with a smaller indegenous subgroup – the interests of the indigeneous minority are subsumed in the interests of the dominant group.

    There is also the moral issue of an invading majority negating the interests of an indigeneous minority. I think the seats are needed in the interests of natural justice.

    I’t not separatist, that argument is illogical and inflammatory.

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  4. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    The way Hide was talking on Breakfast a few minutes ago it’s a done deal, as if he was resigning because cabinet has already decided.

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  5. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    In principle I agree Annie, but if you’re going to use that argument you should also be advocating for seats reserved for any and all special interest groups.

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  6. BlairM (2,341 comments) says:

    Name me one Maori who stood for Auckland City Council (or sought nomination) on a major ticket last time around. I can’t think of a single one. If they had tried and failed repeatedly, then at least they would have a case. But the reality is that when good candidates stand, they get elected. If Arapeta Awatere was around to see this, he’d tell some of these Maori to HTFU and stand the old fashioned way.

    I still don’t see why they can’t just compromise and have non-voting iwi representatives. Let them sit there on the council and have speaking rights and a seat at the table. But if they want a vote, they will have to get the sanction of their peers, Maori and Pakeha alike.

    [DPF: I think there is considerable merit to explore the possibility of non voting Councillors appointed by local Iwi. It would give Iwi a voice on issues relating to their traditional area, but preserve voting representation to those who win an election]

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  7. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    If seats are going to be reserved then it needs to be done for all otherwise you have a tyranny of the minority, interesting paradox isn’t it.

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  8. BlairM (2,341 comments) says:

    Annie – I am a minority of one. Can I have a seat on the council too?

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  9. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    “But if they want a vote, they will have to get the sanction of their peers, Maori and Pakeha alike.”

    Good call, Blair. And therein lies the problem: Some Maori don’t believe that Pakeha are their peers.

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  10. Seán (397 comments) says:

    Solid post DPF. And it seems sensible politics s the order of the day. I am against special Maori seats since (in a nutshell) Maori citizens already have the same voting rights as everyone else, but both ACT and the Maori Party need to put things into perspective – as they seem to have done.

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  11. Pascal (1,969 comments) says:

    When are we going to learn from all the nations that had race based politics?

    We’re New Zealanders. This was the first country to give women the vote. It’s reasonably progressive and has been in touch with all forms of equality. And now this? Race based politics come up SO much it’s sickening.

    Respect our individual cultures and histories, but why the fuck are we treating people differently based on their race?

    There’s a word for that and it’s not a pretty one.

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  12. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    “but why the fuck are we treating people differently based on their race?”

    exactly, next we’ll be having different sentences for maori crime…..oh hang on

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  13. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    Special Seats are devisive. They will probably happen in any event.

    But really Auckland, and indeed every inhabitant that pays rates should have the right for self determination.

    In a nutshell it all feels wrong.

    But there again I don’t agree with Metropolitan Governance. The proposed cost savings will simply not stream through.

    All that will happen is that things will return to the old ways once the heat is off the subject matter.

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  14. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    Good news, ACT are a bunch of looneys that make the greens look normal, a leader who thinks a pin stripe suit gives him credibility when his mouth screams “I am dumb”, a founder who looks like he should be in a wheelchair in a retirement home & an MP who has a potty mouth.
    Be great to get them out of cabinet, though my read is Key will play hardball, Hide will resign but be given another role & basically move sideways.

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  15. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    “[DPF: I think there is considerable merit to explore the possibility of non voting Councillors appointed by local Iwi. It would give Iwi a voice on issues relating to their traditional area, but preserve voting representation to those who win an election]”

    and you know exactly where that will end up. One foot in the door until they complain that they aren’t given the vote.

    This is quite a big issue for many Aucklanders, I trust Key doesn’t underestimate that?

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  16. trout (939 comments) says:

    Good for Rodney – it is time the Nats grew a backbone. They seem to be for ever taking one step forward and two steps back under fire (currently getting tangled up in Social Welfare and Health reform). With the majority they were elected with they have a mandate to put their principles into practice. They were voted in because they rejected the notion of special privilege for Maori.

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  17. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Nigel, you’re the dumbass. ACT is not in cabinet.

    Go back to class; I can hear the school bell chiming.

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  18. Rob Salmond (246 comments) says:

    Wait, so DPF is in favour of a referendum on a minority rights issue, but I’m guessing not in favor of referenda about selling Auckland assets? Surely a public ownership issue is more suitable for consulting the public than is a minority rights issue. We have long recognised that minority rights by majority rule is, in general, a bad idea.

    [DPF: Electoral issues are ones ultimately for the public, not politicians. As for the assets issue, I have said many times I'd probably support Twyford's bill so long as he was requiring a referendum for the acquisition or construction of significant assets, not just their sale]

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  19. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    As a dedicated lifetime National Party voter who worked hard in the last election, should the approach suceed to allow Maori, as of right, seats in the new Auckland Council, I would withold my effort and vote at the next Election.

    My view is not alone with my friends. In the BOP we already have this in our Regional Council so I can only withold my democratic right, as such seats are totally undemocratic in whatever direction you consider. One person one vote.

    Racial descrimination is expanding by stealth in this country – STOP the cancerous growth towards increasing apartheid now, as God help our decendants, as we shall have failed them.

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  20. Lawrence Hakiwai (119 comments) says:

    A referendum would be a total cop out and asking for the people’s opinion while preparing to ignore the result of the smacking referendum might also be politically damaging.

    I hope National grows some balls and tells the racists there will be no representation on the super council based on the colour of your skin.

    One person one vote – works for me.

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  21. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    If Aucklanders wants Maori seats on the Auckland Council, they should petition for them (only needs 5%) and gain a majority in the referendum.

    5% of what? Making a petition to whom?

    Simple point is, there are no easy answers to these questions. National rushed through – without select committee scrutiny – their bill creating the supercity. It’s impossible to know with any certainty. 100% of Aucklanders signing a petition might not be enough to force the Auckland (Super) Council now in existence to hold the referendum you seem to think they can be forced to hold under the Local Electoral Act. Alternatively, it could be 5% of zero.

    Someone should try it.

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  22. Repton (769 comments) says:

    Having Wellington impose Maori seats on Auckland is a very different issues to having Auckland decide for itself whether or not it wants Maori seats.

    Having Wellington impose a supercity on Auckland is a very different issue to having Auckland decide for itself whether or not it wants to become a supercity.

    …or was there a referendum on that issue that I missed?

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  23. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    gooner – So Hide is a minister outside cabinet, I don’t really care alot about that technicality.
    Since getting into Govt ACT have acted like a bunch of Prim Donna’s & my angst is actually with their antics.
    I’m not convinced about Maori seats in an Auckland SuperCity, but I’m sure as hell unimpressed with a ragtag party of misfits on 1% of the vote trying to dictate how our political system should be configured.

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  24. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    Since getting into Govt ACT have acted like a bunch of Prim Donna’s & my angst is actually with their antics.

    What antics? Only thing I have a problem with in Act is David Garrett. Perhaps you should spell out what exactly they have done that has you attacking them, that has not been done by every other party. Maybe you are upset that they actually “try to advance the policy they campaign on”. Thats probably the only unique thing about act.

    I’m not convinced about Maori seats in an Auckland SuperCity, but I’m sure as hell unimpressed with a ragtag party of misfits on 1% of the vote trying to dictate how our political system should be configured.

    Then you should be upset with John Key for giving Rodney Hide the local government portfolio. Hide is trying to dictate how the local government should be configured because it is his assigned job to dictate how the local government is configured.

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  25. Chris Diack (741 comments) says:

    Of course Rob Salmond is a sly fish; the Labour Party itself provided for referenda on minority rights issue i.e. Maori seats on territorial local authorities and regional councils in sections 19Z to 19ZI of the Local Electoral Act 2001. They even allowed voters to countermand a resolution by the Council to adopt Maori seats via a poll of electors.

    Thus what is constitutionally offensive to Mr Salmond today was inoffensive to Labour in 2001 in fact they designed it.

    Phil Twyford’s bill was a nonsense; it included statutory protection for a number of TLA created organisations operating sub-regionally whose objectives might better be met by unifying these.

    However the point remains that the Local Electoral Act 2001 already provides a mechanism for polls of electors on demand by electors should an issue be of broad concern, after the elections to the Auckland Council approximately 50K of the electors at that election can demand one.

    What is much more interesting is that Labour’s Bill wasn’t really about Auckland. It was all about Mr Twyford who styles himself as “Labour List MP based in Auckland Central.”

    I have been wondering why the tone and feel of the loopy Alliance from Twyford after all Labour’s overall electoral challenge isn’t from the hard left. However if one is to take Auckland Central and prevent Russel Norman getting it, that might provide an explanation.

    The only real conclusion is either Twyford is as loopy as he sounds or he is a man on the make and Labour’s objective is to ensure that the Greens don’t take an obvious seat within the Auckland region. So much for “Team LPG”.

    Graeme Edgeler:

    In the original government announcement a poll on Maori Seats was to be conducted with the elections for the new Auckland Council. The Auckland Transition Agency can opt to hold one itself. What would be problematic is an attempt to countermand that resolution via a poll of electors since the demand (5%) is couched in terms of electors at the previous election. Likewise any demand for a poll on an issue is also based on 5% of the electors at the previous election. This of course could be fixed in the 3rd Bill if that be the will of Parliament.

    The political (as opposed to legal question) is whether one wants a poll on Maori council seats (or any other matter desired by a successful petition organiser) to be conducted with the elections in Auckland. Realistically any elector demanded poll would have to get the approx 50k signatures (assuming legislation deems the previous turnout for the TLA’s and regional council to be the previous turnout for the Auckland Council for the purposes of demanding a polling or poll to countermand a resolution of the ATA) by April next year for simple logistics reasons.

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  26. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Rodney Hide’s party polled less than NZ First at the general election, and is currently polling below the margin of error – as usual – in most major polls. It is therefore ridiculous for Rodney Hide to say he knows or represents what most new Zealanders want.

    Hurry up and resign then Rodney if you’re so tough.
    No-one wants your More Rights For Our Capitalist Overlords Party or your extreme economic theories, any more than anyone wants NZ First.

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  27. Chris Diack (741 comments) says:

    RRM:

    Gosh some thinking might be helpful.

    The TV3 poll showed 45% in favour of Maori Seats 44% and 11% undecided.

    The dilemma for National is the party affiliations that accompany those numbers. I suspect there has been largely a partisan alignment on the issue since Labour first came out opposing them and then in muted but clear support.

    I suspect that overwhelmingly the 44% against are basically centre-right voters and the 45% in favour are basically centre-left voters and Maori Party voters.

    The question for National is what number of centre-right voters support Maori Seats?

    Despite your poor attempt at a beat up on Rodney Hide, this issue is, as it always has been, in the end, up to National. It’s John Key’s call – that why he is paid the big money – that is why he is the boss.

    How much capital does he spend now in order to invest in a longer term relationship with the Maori Party. If he looses centre-right voters to ACT with those voters still contributing for the formation of a future National led Government then that might be a goer. However loose too many and that creates a potentially more demanding ACT in the longer term and in the short he looks to be not heeding his own voters. He will also be considering whether his personal salesmanship can change those numbers. His other calculation is whether Rodney Hide adds value in the Ministry.

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  28. freethinker (691 comments) says:

    RPM
    Winston first did not win an electorate seat – Rodney did twice – so Epsom wanted Rodney and the party vote carried additional MPs – no electorate wanted Winston or any NZ1st MP and neither did the rest of the party voting electors – thems the rules – every candidate knew them – just like Cricket or Rugger. You may be the best candidate/team but if you dont score the numbers your just the loser – an apt description for Winston although I could think of more appropriate vulgar descriptions. Incidently has Winston paid back the stolen taxpayers dollars to the taxpayer or are they still with his favourite charity – WP1??

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  29. Dumb Fuck 4 Justice (556 comments) says:

    @DPF “Having Wellington impose Maori seats on Auckland is a very different issues to having Auckland decide for itself whether or not it wants Maori seats.”

    That is a cop out. National should man up and say no to the racist system of Maori seats both in local and central government. If Maori want representation then they can do it the same way the rest of us do.

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  30. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    Paradigm – Being Minister doesn’t give you unilateral control, last I heard, pushing your agenda yes & I actually have no problem with Hide disagreeing with Maori seats, heck I am unsure if it’s a good idea, but my issue is that it’s one thing to disagree, it’s another thing entirely to put your Ministerial seat on the line.
    Are they any worse than Labour/Greens/NZ First, definitely not, but then that’s a pretty low bar at times & I think ACT should be aiming alot higher if they want to sell their economic policies, to me trying to sell economic policy is a bit like a bank trying to sell themselves to depositors. You need a huge amount of credibility, you need to be viewed as secure,strong,careful, considerate & pragmatic. I’d struggle to describe ACT in those terms & that is probably what upsets me most, because in economic policy I want them to succeed.

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  31. MT_Tinman (3,204 comments) says:

    A referendum in NZ’s largest population area would be enlightening to say the least.

    I would hope the question would be in the line of;

    Do you want Auckland’s local political make-up to reflect the apartheid system currently present in national politics?

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  32. Chris Diack (741 comments) says:

    Nigel

    You are inventing constitutional convention. Its not about unilateral control or any such matter.

    In fact what Hide is doing is the classically the right thing. If he cannot be bound by collective responsibility in his portfolio on this issue should Cabinet propose amending the legislation currently before the select committee to provide for Maori seats he has little option. By the Coalition agreement between National and ACT Hide is bound by collective responsibility in his portfolio responsibilities. This is a distinct obligation from those regarding confidence and supply.

    He has advised the Prime Minister in private some time ago that he cannot serve the Government as Minister of Local Government should he be required by Cabinet to take responsibility for legislation proposing special Maori representation.

    Both his behaviour and tone is beyond constitutional reproach. As I said this matter is one for the Prime Minister and the National Cabinet.

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  33. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    Chris,

    In summary you are saying Hide is happy to be Minister in a govt which includes special Maori representation, but allowing voters to choose whether they want it for an Auckland Super City is beyond his mandate from the ACT party & therefore he must resign. That mandate of course was discussed in Private & was not one of the 20 point plan they went to the electorate with.

    Maybe he’s just doing a Palin, bailing ship because the Super City is seriously flawed & he does not want any more association with it, or maybe he’d rather run for Mayor ???.

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  34. annie (539 comments) says:

    A couple of people have agreed in principle with the argument I put forward in post #3, but extended the thinking to all minority groups in society, which my wording specifically excluded. The difference with Maori is that they are the indigeneous Treaty partners, whose assets the more unscrupulous settlers misappropriated, not an immigrant subgroup. Their historical and legal position is fundamentally different to that of other minority groups in society, and as such I think they should be entitled to separate representation, at least in terms of having their viewpoint considered

    I certainly don’t support this for anyone else. You minorites of one included.

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  35. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    If you support discriminatory policies based on race you are racist.

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  36. Lawrence Hakiwai (119 comments) says:

    What riles me the most in this debate are the white liberals presuming to know what’s best for Maori.

    We are not children to be spoken down to or given special favours because we need your charity.

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  37. Student (2 comments) says:

    Come on guys when do maori ever get a fair shot at this kind of stuff?
    Our society is so Pakeha its not funny!
    Even if there were Maori who were nominated would any of them really get in?
    Labour come back!

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  38. Student (2 comments) says:

    Im With you BlairM & Lawrence Hakiwai

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  39. Chris Diack (741 comments) says:

    Nigel

    The current parliamentary seats are an unfortunate fact. ACT may oppose their continuance in our constitutional arrangements or believe that if they exist the protection and abolition should require a similar mechanism as for general seats. As I understand it that is ACT’s position. I note they probably would not be created now if they did not exist – witness the controversy in local government.

    Introducing them by legislation into Local Government is not a fact but a proposal. It would be a case of spreading a bad approach in one area of representational arrangements in one level of government into another level of government.

    The fact is the law already allows for their creation in local government in the Local Electoral Act 2001. If Maori really want them they can organise and persuade their fellow Aucklanders in a referendum – this is the system already put in place by Labour.

    The initial annoucement by the Government included a referendum with the voting next time.

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  40. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    Our society is so Pakeha its not funny!

    But the above comment is…

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  41. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    Do you want Auckland’s local political make-up to reflect the apartheid system currently present in national politics?

    “Should Apartheid as part of racist minority empowerment be a part of local body elections in New Zealand?”

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  42. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    Chris,

    Surely then the best approach for ACT would be to ask for a referendum on whether the Maori seats should be in the SuperCity, that way they can disagree & not have Hide resign as Minister.

    I still get the feeling Hide is making a point of this in a way that didn’t need to happen, if the arguements against Maori seats are so good, a referendum would be won, democracy would prevail & no need for grandstanding.

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  43. BlairM (2,341 comments) says:

    I think Student (2) is a bit confused – he wants no Maori seats and Labour back as well? Not sure you’d get one without the other.

    Maori who bother to stand for local government on mainstream tickets generally do very well. It’s just that not many of them bother, so it seems odd they are so bothered now.

    One thing I think that needs pointing out is the irony of Rodney Hide’s position. He is not accountable to Maori precisely because of parliament’s Maori seats. He knows he doesn’t need their vote to retain Epsom. So he doesn’t have to take their views on board, unless he feels like being nice.

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  44. dave (988 comments) says:

    The fact is the law already allows for their creation in local government in the Local Electoral Act 2001. If Maori really want them they can organise and persuade their fellow Aucklanders in a referendum

    Fat lot of use that will be – referendums are not binding under the LEA.

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  45. jackp (668 comments) says:

    I think Rodney Hide is sticking to his principles. He thinks that if Maori wants seats in the Super City, then run for office. They certainly have the resources. Also, this idea about iwi not having voting rights but being on the council is a comprise to western democracy. Who will pay for them, the ratepayers? All minorities will be represented in a free voting competition as well as majorities. Lawrence is right. He wants to bring dignity to Maori and he is doing it the right way. Annie, your a fucking racists. How dare you down play the other minorities like they were scum.

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  46. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Chris Diack said:

    He has advised the Prime Minister in private some time ago that he cannot serve the Government as Minister of Local Government should he be required by Cabinet to take responsibility for legislation proposing special Maori representation.

    It’s exactly as Mr Diack writes. Hide simply said he could not introduce legislation to the parliament as Minister that he could not support. He could not vote against legislation he introduced: constitutionally that’s perverse and Hide did precisely the right thing. Key has known about this for months. It’s his play.

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  47. oxymoron (32 comments) says:

    Does anyone think that Tariana Turia’s comments about Rodney Hide are blatantly hypocritical? She says that Hide is grandstanding because he’s saying he’d resign rather than be responsible for a policy that is against his principles? Only because it’s popular with his support base? Didn’t Turia resign because she was principally against the seabed and foreshore legislation? And not only that, run for a new party? And gain popular support amongst her constituency?

    Has anyone asked her yet?

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  48. sonic (2,818 comments) says:

    “The Local Government and Electoral Acts allows local voters to decide this by way of referendum. ”

    David is against us having a referendum on the big isue of the supercity, but is for having one on Maori representation.

    I know it is hard having Mr 1% runing National’s policy in the biggest electorate in NZ David, but that is the most pathetic bit of spin you have come up with for a while.

    1/10, must try harder.

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  49. BlairM (2,341 comments) says:

    Mr 1% is important because John Key is only Mr 49%. Neither have a mandate to do as they please. Both must agree. It’s not the tail wagging the dog, because a tail without a dog won’t get much of anything done.

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