Maori Seats for Auckland?

Audrey Young reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has given an undertaking to the influential Iwi Leadership Group to talk to the new Auckland Council about dedicated Maori seats on the council. But no quick decisions are expected to be taken.

Mr Brown attended the group’s hui at Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua on Saturday as a guest.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples asked Mr Brown to attend the hui with him.

The request to discuss Maori representation on the council was put by Tainui leader Tukoroirangi Morgan and Ngati Whatua leader Naida Glavish.

Mr Morgan said last night that Mr Brown gave an undertaking to discuss the issue with his new council which has only just been sworn in.

He had said it was a serious issue and it would be discussed comprehensively.

I have two objections to Maori seats on the Auckland Council – one principled and one pragmatic.

The principled argument is that race based seats are a bad thing, and over time will lead NZ to a Fiji type situation.

The pragmatic argument is that there is no problem to solve.

In the Auckland region, Maori make up just under 10% of the population (and only 8.3% of the adult population). On the Auckland Council, 3 out of 20 Councillors or 15% have Maori descent.

Mr Morgan and Dr Sharples said there was no support for getting the issue tested through a referendum.

It would be a brave Council that introduced race based seats on its own initiative, without letting the people have a say.

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