MPs urged to change 'hideous' law

Andrew Judd at Select Committee. Photo: RNZ/Richard Tindiller,

MPs have been urged to change a "hideous" law which allows the public to challenge and overturn Maori seats on local councils.

It comes after Manawatu voters on Tuesday rejected a council decision to set up a Maori ward with roughly 77 percent of respondents opposed.

Former New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd presented a petition to Parliament on Wednesday morning, asking that Maori be treated fairly.

Currently, the establishment of Maori wards can be put to a public poll, while other wards, such as rural or geographical seats, cannot.

"To highlight out the Maori seat is divisive. It’s cruel," Mr Judd told a Parliamentary select committee.

"If you’re in the rural seat, you’re also considered a minority - so that minority has an easier pathway to the table than the Maori minority."

He was calling for "equal treatment" for Maori, he said, "not special treatment."

"You either have a petition and polling for all council decisions of its seats. Or none."

His preference was the latter, he said.

Mr Judd has long-lobbied for change after his failed bid to create a Maori ward in the New Plymouth district after being elected mayor in 2013.

He knew from experience how cruel the law could be and now Manawatu would face the same problem, he said.

"It divides communities - and no one wins from that," he said.

"That poor [Manawatu] community is now going to have to go through the pain of that division."

Lobby group Hobson’s Pledge organised the Manawatu petition and several others in districts looking to bring in Maori wards on their councils.

Palmerston North residents’ have until midday on Saturday to vote on the same issue.

Mr Judd said the referendums sent a message to Maori that they did not belong.

"Imagine being young and Maori and you’ve just come of the age to vote... to be faced with people coming to your town to take away your right based only on the fact that you’re Maori."

Pakeha would consider it "abhorrent" if the process was reversed and Maori could challenge general seats, he said.

"Yet we think it quite natural and normal that we can treat Māori in this way - by legislation, for heaven’s sake. It’s horrible."

Local Government New Zealand also called for change earlier this year, describing the law as unfair and inconsistent.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Mr Judd said he was "realistic" about the chance of change given the make-up of Parliament.

"But that doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying."

A bill - in the name of the Greens’ Marama Davidson - sought to treat all seats equally, but failed at its first hurdle last year, opposed by National, New Zealand First and ACT.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has said she’s open to reviewing the law and wants to hear more from the sector.

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Lost His Marbles

Posted on 17-05-2018 12:10 | By Bazza 78

I knew Andrew quite well in a previous life. Nice guy.Becoming mayor of New Plymouth seems to have changed him for the worst.


Posted on 17-05-2018 08:15 | By Qalad

Simple to fix we will ensure that all candidates for council declare their position on this issue and that all voters are aware of the candidates view. Then democracy will have its say.


Posted on 17-05-2018 08:11 | By Richard McNair

The only thing hideous is the fact that this man wants to take away the democratic rights of New Zealanders, he lost his seat over the matter and now still has not seen the light!


Posted on 17-05-2018 03:38 | By Pensioner

The only thing making the voting of Maori wards is doing is separating the people of New Zealand. If you want to stand up to be voted in for your council then do so regardless of your skin colour. If you get voted in then what is the problem. Whites stand up to be voted. Some are in and some are out. So why have special wards just for Maori. They are no different to other ethnicities of New Zealand.

Andrew Judd is utterly obsessed.

Posted on 16-05-2018 21:17 | By Bruja

To have ANY ’seats’ on ANY organisation based on race is simply, factually, apartheid. It is racist. That is a fact and racism is illegal in New Zealand.