Maori Seats on Auckland Council

The Herald reports:

The council is a balance of experience, youth and gender. It has eight women councillors, five sitting or former council leaders, and two Pacific Island and two Maori councillors – but no representatives from any other ethnic groups.

A pretty diverse Council, and one would think showed there is no need for race based seats.

On TVNZ’s Q & A yesterday, Mr Brown said a referendum on creating Maori seats on the council “may well” be possible in the next three years.

“I want us to have a full debate across the community, and I want to find out the best way of including the whole community in that,” he said.

“But I want to see Maori representation, particularly mana whenua [local tribal] representation on that council.”

Len Brown’s policy was to support Maori seats, so this is no surprise.

But I would be very cautious about mana whenua representation, because that implies that rather than have an election amongst electors on the Maori roll, instead the three local iwi would directly appoint a Councillor. So a dozen people in a room get the same voting rights as the entire Rodney District.

The current laws allows for Maori seats in the traditional sense, but a law change would be needed to have mana whenua direct representation as proposed by the Royal Commission and supported by Len. So this is highly unlikely unless people vote for a Labour/Green Government in 2011.

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