Does Labour want Pacific Island seats on Councils?

Su’a WIlliam Sio says:

The call by the Pacific community for allocated seats on local councils is a result of the frustration of being left out of decision making says Labour’s Local Government and Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.

“Given the Pacific community wants a stake in decisions that affect its families, communities and kids it is obvious there is a need for a discussion on how we ensure our minority groups are represented properly.

Does that mean Labour will change the law to give allow Pacific Islanders guaranteed seats on Councils, as they did for Maori?

“An active, participative democracy allows for full inclusion and I support a discussion to explore how current systems can be improved to ensure Pacific representation isn’t left by the wayside.

“Pacific, Maori and Asian communities are the youngest and fastest growing populations in New Zealand. Their voices matter and our governance structures shouldn’t mute their contributions,” Su’a William Sio said.

It seems obvious that Sio thinks there should be Pacific seats on Councils. Does Labour? Is this something they want to do, but don’t want to announce?

Wil that be followed by guaranteed Asian seats on Council? Will all seats be race based in future? Because that is the logical end point of race based seats.

I fully understand the historical background to the parliamentary Maori seats, and why many in Maoridom see great value in them. I don’t support “taking them away” without the consent of Maori, as that is a pretty hostile thing to do.

But I hate the precedent they set of race based seats being acceptable. And we saw Labour extend this to local government by allowing Councils to create race based seats for Maori. And it is inevitable that so long as you have race based seats for Maori, then of course other ethnic communities will aspire to having them also, such as Pacific Islanders. Of course you can argue the status of Maori is different as tangata whenua, but nevertheless the existence of the seats means they do create a precedent.

If you have seats for Pacific Islanders, how could you argue against seats for Asians?

I’m proud of the fact that Asian New Zealanders have been elected Mayors in Dunedin and Gisborne. It was no big thing, they just happened to be Asian. That is how it should be.

I’m all for improving the diversity of both Parliament and Councils, but not through race based seats or quotas. I also support recognising the unique interests of Iwi in local issues such as resource use, but I don’t think Maori roll seats are the way to do that.

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