Maori wards are not the same as geographic wards

The media are running countless stories on the push to take away from the public the right to decide if their Council should or should not have Maori wards.

The latest is at Stuff which quotes five different people who all believe the public should have no say on whether a Council has Maori wards or not, and not a single voice with an opposing view. Yep five advocates interviewed, and no one else.

Buit what is worse is that there seems to be no one in the media who will call bullshit on the claim put forward by proponents that it is racist to allow a referendum on Maori wards because there is no provision to do so for general or geographic wards.

Almost every country on earth has geographic wards or seats for their national, state and/or local government. A decision on whether to have say five or six geographic wards for a council is generally an administrative decision. Geographic seats or wards have existed for around 755 years and again are a routine or standard feature of democratic institutions in almost every country on earth.

Whether or not to have race based seats or Maori wards is fundamentally different. Having seats reserved for people of one race, is incredibly uncommon in the world. No other developed country or OECD member does it.

Fiji used to do it. Only eight other countries (including Jordan, India, Colombia, Croatia) have race based seats at the parliamentary level, and I suspect even fewer at the local government level.

Deciding that a local council should have a Maori ward is a major political decision. It fundamentally changes the nature of representation in a council as it means some councillors will represent people of one ethnicity only, rather than everyone in a geographic district. Reasonable people can disagree on whether or not they are a good idea.

But to claim that race based seats are no different to geographic seats and hence the public should have no say on them is elitist nonsense. It would be like arguing that deciding whether or not to change electoral systems should be a decision left purely to MPs

They are trying to do away with voters having a say, because they think the voters have made the wrong decision. They hate the fact the public disagree with them on what is a controversial political issue. So their solution is to ban the public from deciding.

It is elitism at its worse. The public vote the wrong way, so we must take the vote away from them.

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