Peaceful protest at meeting against Maori wards

Buddy Mikaere will attend the public meeting in protest today with about 40 others. Photo: File.

A group of peaceful protesters will speak about the importance of Maori wards at a public meeting in Tauranga today.

The meeting has been organised by a group called Concerned Citizens, which recently submitted a petition opposing the matter.

Hobson’s pledge members Don Brash and Casey Costello will speak at the meeting, along with former New Conservative member Elliot Ikilei.

Buddy Mikaere has rallied a group of about 40 people to attend today's meeting in protest. He wants to make it clear that many Tauranga locals are in support of Maori wards.

"The idea is that it does not become confrontational, it is an exchange of ideas.

"My intent is to show them, just by the number of people that turn up, that this is the true voice of Tauranga.”

Tauranga City Council voted to establish a Maori ward for the 2022 local government election in August last year. Concerned Citizens then started a petition calling for a binding poll on the issue.

A binding poll is required if requested in writing and signed by at least five per cent of electors, meaning just under 5000 signatures are required.

Meeting organiser Margaret Murray-Benge says the issue of Maori wards "demands debate within the wider community".

She says she is totally opposed to Maori being "locked up into a little Maori ward".

"I am totally opposed to anybody, any group going down a separate path. We should all work together.”

When asked about how she chose the three speakers, Margaret told SunLive they all share similar values around equality.

"I know Don really well, and I know how he feels about equality. I chose Casey Costello because she is Nga Puhi, Scottish and Irish.

Event organiser Margaret Murray-Benge. Photo: File. 

"She says 'don't patronise me - I am as good as anyone else' and stands firmly on a base of equality for all.”

Margaret says she welcomes peaceful protesters as long as they come with an open mind.

"I want to see some serious, sound debate on the whole issue.

"We don't need to tear each other to pieces. But we need to understand - what will be the best thing for Maori."

Buddy says it's unfortunate that none of the speakers at today's event are based in Tauranga.

"Why should these people from out of Tauranga come here and have a say about what happens in Tauranga? It is just rude and discourteous."

He says Maori representation on council is crucial, so Maori issues are properly represented.

"When you see that actually, almost 20 per cent of the population in Tauranga is Maori. I am sure those people are entitled to have a say in how the city operates."

The meeting will take place at the Tauranga Yacht Club at 2pm today.

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Maori Wards are two Treaty partners united around one table

Posted on 04-02-2021 20:03 | By Peter Dey

People who say that they are opposed to Maori Wards because they support democracy and political equality, who want us to be one people, and are opposed to race based political decisions are misleading us. We have political equality. It is one person one vote and the majority rules. Maori Wards do not change that. Our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi is a race based document that unites two partners, Maori and Pakeha. It is race based but not separatist. Race based decisions are a healthy part of a bicultural nation. We can only be one people if we all become Pakeha and Maori give up their identity. The Treaty was an agreement for Maori to keep their identity and for us to be two peoples but united. That is what Maori Wards are two partners united around one table.

@Robin Bell (Final from me on this.)

Posted on 01-02-2021 13:21 | By morepork

You are so bitter and twisted you can’t even see straight. I never laid down conditions, or suggested that unless "my rules" were met, people should not stand. I made some suggestions about what could help a potential Maori candidate. It was intended to be helpful and get you to see past the Racist view that Maori candidates are rejected on a Race basis. A successful candidate will need a wider view than ONLY the promotion of Maori issues, because you live in a country where Maori are 25%. Once you are elected, by all means, promote Maori issues, but serve the ENTIRE community and not just one quarter of it. I can see you are determined to continue in the same vein and, despite claiming you know the rules of debate, you are NOT debating. A monologue is not a debate. LISTEN, and THINK. I do...

Strange morepork, but

Posted on 31-01-2021 16:14 | By R. Bell

didn’t you mention your treaty rights? It is not surprising that you lay down conditions for potential Maori candidates is it? Your pre supposition being they must meet your standards or don’t apply. Council is about far more than rubbish collection. An iwi perspective is unfortunately the very perspective that would guarantee a no vote for any potential Maori candidate, especially in Tauranga. As for yadick well mate if you don’t believe this is an us and them situation, you know nothing of the science of debating.

@ R. Bell

Posted on 31-01-2021 14:38 | By

You’re very much us and them aren’t you. About time you got that log off your shoulder and started enjoying life. There is no need for the absolute rudeness to people. We can all move forward together. To move forward you need to look forward. If you keep trying to move forward looking backwards you’ll keep hitting the wall.

Response to R. Bell, as requested.

Posted on 31-01-2021 13:52 | By morepork

Robin, You need to come into present time and stop grieving over past mistreatment. We all agree there were bad actions by the Crown but we cannot go on forever trying to atone for it. Fair reparation has been made and it is time to let it go. Maori were also not without fault; white people were massacred and murdered, too, but nothing is gained by dwelling on it. We can live in a festering, far less enlightened, past, or we can look to a bright future for ALL our people. Get some fair-minded Maori candidates who recognize Democracy and start addressing issues that EVERYBODY is concerned with (Rubbish collection, Rates, Transparency, etc.) and bring an iwi perspective to these issues. Your candidate will NOT be rejected because they are Maori. If you present ONLY Maori issues, why would you expect non-Maori to vote for you?


Posted on 31-01-2021 08:32 | By R. Bell

I hope you get this one. Perhaps you can explain how Maori wards infringe upon your treaty rights. To answer your question, I have read and understood the treaty, I have also studied and understood the Constitution Act 1852 I suggest you do the same. Perhaps then you will understand the appalling way Maori were treated by our ancestors. But then maybe not.

@R. Bell

Posted on 30-01-2021 14:29 | By morepork

Robin, what about MY treaty rights? They are exactly the same as Maori treaty rights. And I agree with you that rights under this treaty are "paramount". But they are paramount for ALL of us. Why don’t you READ it?

Kudos to the brave,

Posted on 30-01-2021 09:09 | By R. Bell

Pakeha women and men who turned out to support our treaty partners in their ongoing battle against electoral discrimination. Claims that Maori wards are divisive and unnecessary is a purely Pakeha perspective that ignores the simple facts that Maori are numerically disadvantaged and their treaty rights are paramount.

2 points.

Posted on 29-01-2021 16:59 | By morepork

I have great respect for Buddy but there are 2 things here: 1. People from outside of Tauranga are concerned about the overall principle of separate Maori Wards. It is not disrespectful to present their arguments ANYWHERE where Maori Wards are being considered. 2. Maori representation on Council is only "crucial" if Council are acting AGAINST Maori and specifically disadvantaging them. There are many channels where awareness of that can be raised, IF it happens. Those Maori who consider themselves part of the population of NZ will have no more objection than the rest of us. Having said that, it would be good to have Maori representation on Council so that specific (Maori) perspectives can be noted. I’d like to see Buddy (or Tommy Wilson) in this role. But we don’t need a SEPARATE Ward for this; I believe the Wards are divisive and unnecessary.

Non- Confrontational - yeah right

Posted on 29-01-2021 16:28 | By spencerb

I have just returned from the meeting and the Makaere’s rabble made sure that the meeting was very much confrontational.


Posted on 29-01-2021 12:39 | By dumbkof2

some people keep saying we all need to act as one people but others still want to be a separate entity

And yet

Posted on 29-01-2021 12:18 | By Kancho

A referendum should still be held , we live in s democracy. Like many other councils have already done and found most New Zealander ratepayers what council to run better essential services and not a race bias. I had hoped that Maori candidates could stand for seats on general council. I would have hoped we were passed race based appointment. Like many I consider everyone as New Zealanders neither race nor sex defining anyone. As on individual I have family history and ethnicity mix but irrelevant to council core business. I’m not special because of my blood , I’m a customer of council service. I pay for services that I want efficiency and cost effectiveness and this is struggling. I can’t see merit in another committee.