Maori and WCC

The Herald reports:

Wellington City Council is investigating giving mana whenua voting rights and remuneration on council committees.

Councillors unanimously voted this morning in favour of a report being undertaken into the legal and logistical steps of it.

Māori partnerships portfolio leader councillor Jill Day led the move with a notice of motion, which was tabled at a strategy and policy committee meeting today.

She choked up when she reflected on the Māori world view.

“Just for a minute imagine what it’s been like to watch for generations your land alienated, your names replaced, and your identity removed from the community, and every time you would like to participate you’re reminded that you can’t because of this law or this process. The rules are stacked against you.”

It is true there has been land alienation etc in the past. But what is the law or process that stops Maori from participating in Wellington City Council? What are the rules that Cr Day says are stacked against them?

As it happens two of the 15 City Councillors are Maori. This is roughly the same proportion as Maori are of the overall Wellington City population.

Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons said the definition of democracy recognised the legitimacy of first peoples.

“In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi is what gives this council and the whole state any legitimacy to be here at all.”

That is an interesting stance. By this logic, the Governments of Australia, the US and Canada are all illegitmate as they didn’t have a Treaty.

I regard it as a good thing we did sign the Treaty of Waitangi. I think our record with regards to indigenous populations is far better than many other countries, because of it. But that is different from saying the Treaty is what gives the Government legitimacy.

As to the actual issue of Mana Whenua reps on Council committees, I don’t actually oppose that so long as final decisions are made by the full elected Council.

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