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Maori wards pass vote in Tauranga

Tauranga City Councillor Jako Abrie pushed for Maori Wards to be introduced and convinced his older peers. Photo: File Image.

Applause and haka erupted from the public gallery as Tauranga City Council voted to establish a Maori Ward for the 2022 local government election.

Councillor Jako Abrie started the debate by showing a slide show of every Tauranga City Councillor since its establishment to illustrate his point there was a representation issue.

Not one was of Maori descent, mostly older white males, and it was revealed it had been 28 years, before the City council was established, since Tauranga had a Maori councillor.

He moved the motion to establish Maori wards and said councils, as representatives of the Crown, had a right to ensure Maori were at the voting table.

“Is it fair we have 11 elected members here under the Crown without a formal voice for our treaty partner,” he says.

“Is it our obligation to put in processes for Tangata Whenua to have a vote? For those planning to vote against the recommendation, to vote down what our treaty partner has requested, I urge you to explain your reasoning.”

Councillor Dawn Kiddie, who abstained in the vote, says she liked the idea of Maori wards but argued it would never pass the binding referendum invariably called.

Once a council votes to establish a Maori ward a binding referendum can be called if five per cent of those who voted in the last election call for a poll.

This poll only applies to Maori wards and has seen councils who voted to introduce Maori wards have the decision overturned.

Tauranga's neighbouring council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council faced one such poll in 2018 with 78 per cent of the electorate voting against Maori wards.

Councillor Clout asked how much such a poll would cost. Staff advised $216,000.

This could be reduced to $25,000 if the referendum was conducted as part of a local body election.

Councillor Andrew Hollis, who had made public statements about “burning the treaty” during his election campaign, says the idea of establishing Maori wards was “insulting”.

“A decision based on the luck of the draw of being born to a set of parents [to represent at council] is the opposite idea of democracy,” he says.

Councillor Larry Baldock says the cost of any referendum should not form part of the argument as there was a cost to not having Maori representation.

“The only way we get to better future is we do the right thing today,” he says.

“Who knows what tomorrow might bring. Yes, we are nervous about the referendum, but we could be the difference."

Labour MP Tamati Coffey, who was in attendance, says he was "stoked and overwhelmed” by the decision though he admits he was surprised it passed.

“We know there are some councillors here who have been outspoken against Maori representation,” he said.

“Abrie was a champion. He took it back to the injustice of the land being stolen and taken. Let's not be scared by the poll. I was in favour of the council passing this and sending it out to the community.”

Council voted 6-4 to establish a Maori ward with Mayor Tenby Powell, deputy mayor Tina Salisbury and councillors Abrie, Larry Baldock, Heidi Hughes, and Bill Grainger voting in favour.

Councillors John Robson, Steve Morris, Hollis and Clout voted in opposition.

With the Maori ward voted on the council will now review its representation arrangements ahead of the 2022 election.

-Stuff

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19 Comments
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Jako

Posted on 27-08-2020 08:36 | By

Why are they wasting my money on this? It’s not going to happen so you may as well debate the existence of fairies. Why is Jako Abrie still there? Being a Councillor is “not my bag”.

@noteven part 2.

Posted on 26-08-2020 19:40 | By morepork

"...this important issue is put out amongst the wider community who frankly really couldn’t give a monkeys about Maori concerns or issues." It is true that some people don’t care, about anyone except themselves, but that’s no worse than Maori not caring about others. We are a young nation and we are growing. Diversity is much more acceptable than it was 50 years ago and many Maori have moved with the times and built successful businesses and gained mana within our Democracy. Ethnic wards simply demean Maori into people who want special treatment, and demand privilege over others. I can immediately think of 2 Maori candidates I’d be glad to vote for as Councilors, (Buddy Mikaere and Tommy Wilson) both doing fantastic work for the Community AND for Maori. Men of that calibre would be welcome, without racist bias, because they are true New Zealanders. Not the ONLY ones..

@noteven

Posted on 26-08-2020 19:15 | By morepork

You put your finger on it when you said: "after all they’re the only ones voting for whomever they wish to represent them". That is the nub of this issue. ALL of us vote for the people we want to represent us; that’s the Democratic system we embrace and which generations of Maori and other Ethnicities have fought and died for. Why should ANY minority get their own special treatment? Can you not see how totally unfair that is on everybody else? I understand your concern about Maori issues but this is NOT the way to go about it. You should be promoting people who have your interests at heart to stand as representatives for our "one people". Let’s get some Maori Councilors by all means, but not BECAUSE they are Maori, rather, because they will be good representatives. That takes wider vision.

What about the rest of us.

Posted on 26-08-2020 19:10 | By

Are we going to have Asian, Oriental, Islander, Lebanese, African and White Supremacist wards as well? Seems odd that Maori are deemed ’special’ for political stations Hardly seems democratic

Geronimo

Posted on 26-08-2020 15:08 | By stephennel

Well done Jako, a bit of apartheid will be great fun. Where did you get the mandate for this - you are supposed to consult with ratepayers beforehand?

And Again

Posted on 26-08-2020 14:19 | By

Morepork sums it up beautifully.

ward

Posted on 26-08-2020 14:18 | By dumbkof2

so we now have a ward just for maori. is this not racist. i would expect a ward for the chinese. indians japanese and all the other races in this city

Bad for everyone.

Posted on 26-08-2020 00:15 | By morepork

"I urge you to explain your reasoning.” Gladly: 1. There is no "partnership" in the Treaty; Maori are equal citizens with everyone else. 2. If there has been no Maori representation (and I’m sorry about that) it would be because no Maori got voted in. How many Maori candidates presented themselves? 3. Council is not about Ethnic advancement or preference, it is about the Community as a whole, including Maori, Pasifika, Asian, European, and a whole bunch of minorities which are part of the diversity we should all be proud of. Ethnic wards are simply Racist, and it is purely misguided people who support them. I’ll be voting against, but now you know why.

Carcass

Posted on 25-08-2020 21:17 | By Carcass

Some very sick Councillors on Tauranga City Council.Wow do they like sepratisim

Tauranga deserves better leadership

Posted on 25-08-2020 19:59 | By sobeit

At least 7 elected members have just voted themselves out of a seat at the next election....again. Now there’s the trouble of getting the petition together to stop this nonsense.We’re all NZers ! The result of the referendum will be in the order of 80/20 against. These people are supposed to represent all of Tauranga. We’d just settle for leadership. The Mayor just represents Iwi, Business interests and failed builders it seems

Merit Only!

Posted on 25-08-2020 19:48 | By Equality

Councillors are voted in on merit regardless of the colour of their skin!! This is an insult to Maoridom to expect favours because of their race. This is RACISM!

Maori ward

Posted on 25-08-2020 19:48 | By tia

Well isn’t this interesting. Stand for an elected representative and you don’t get voted in, yet you can still get in through a Maori Ward. So can someone point me in the direction of the Pakeha seat?? And they say there is no racism in NZ - Yeah right

viv Sowerby.

Posted on 25-08-2020 19:28 | By

Well done, young Yako. You have a fine future ahead, and I believe you will indeed rise to the top.

Disgrace

Posted on 25-08-2020 19:17 | By Feruno

Mr. Abrie, you challenge a real Councillor, who was, and is VERY well supported, to prove to you that there is NOT a ’partnership’ in the TWT ’partnership’. I challenge YOU to prove there IS a ’partnership’. " We are one People" means we are EQUAL, NOT partners. I EAGERLY await your ’proof’

Done on the Sly.

Posted on 25-08-2020 18:52 | By Cynical Me

Not once, not anywhere was this ever mentioned during the election and it has been very hush hush till today. Like Jacinda, chuck em out. This is not a choice made by ratepayers. Rate payers fund these things.

About time.

Posted on 25-08-2020 17:54 | By

This should of happened ages ago. Why should the wider public make a choice on a referendum for Maori wards? It should be the Maori electorate that makes that choice after all they’re the only ones voting for whomever they wish to represent them. The current system is flawed especially when this important issue is put out amongst the wider community who frankly really couldn’t give a monkeys about Maori concerns or issues. And, before you redneck mob start claiming “Apartheid” just remember that system was bought in by a past foreign “White” regime on the other side of the world.

wards

Posted on 25-08-2020 16:37 | By dumbkof2

well you don’t have to be voted in to be a councilor now

Well done.

Posted on 25-08-2020 15:39 | By

Māori people with excellent qualities stood and missed out at the last election. I congratulate the councillors who could see what was right and voted for this representation

Get elected on council

Posted on 25-08-2020 15:22 | By

If Maori want representation then put your name forward and get voted on the council like everyone else has to, no one has a problem Maori being on the council but why should they just get it given to them they have more rights than anyone else.