Saturday, April 13, 2024

Auckland Council Māori seats support falls short

A majority of Auckland Councillors have this afternoon voted against the introduction of Māori seats for the next local body elections in 2025.

In a statement, Auckland Council said most councillors believed they have not yet received enough support from Aucklanders to justify changing the status quo for representation on the council’s governing body, the Council said in a statement today.

Thirteen councillors voted against introducing Māori seats to the council for the 2025 elections. Mayor Wayne Brown abstained from the vote.

Further work to consider appropriate Māori representation in Auckland will be undertaken by the council’s Joint Governance Working Party, who will report back to the Governing Body by 31 December 2024, the Council said.

Councillor and Māori Portfolio holder, Kerrin Leoni said the outcome was disappointing.

Māori Portfolio holder, Kerrin Leoni.

“It’s been a long wait to get this far. I had hoped for a different pathway, but this topic has generated widespread discussion and raised awareness about those core values we all hold close to our hearts – democracy, equality and fairness. That can only be a good thing,” said Cr Leoni.

“The next time Tāmaki Makaurau considers this decision, I expect there will be a whole lot more motivation to support change.”

A total of 11,825 individuals, 43 organisations, 17 Māori entities and local board gave feedback on the proposal.

Those not in favour of introducing Māori seats accounted for 68% of individual submissions and 54% of organisations. Support predominantly came from Māori entities (87%), Māori individuals (54%) and local boards (85%).

“Most of the feedback focused on the overarching themes of equality, equity, and democracy. Those in support believe introducing specific Māori representation will help address Māori inequity and honour the council’s obligations to Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” the Council said.

It said other submissions maintained Māori wards will help deliver proportional Māori representation based on population.

“Opposition to Māori seats has centred around concerns of equality. Submitters believe that everyone should have the same opportunity for representation, regardless of ethnicity, and that our current system is the most democratic.”

Council’s Manager of Governance Services, Rose Leonard says the council made a significant effort to capture Māori views and preferences, in recognition that this decision has the greatest impact and significance for Māori.

“We canvassed the range of options that were possible under current legislation, and some that require legislative change. The difficulty is to find a solution that everyone agrees on for the process of how we can implement this effectively,” she says.

Mayor Wayne Brown says the council hasn’t yet found the right solution for Māori representation and wants to see more work done on alternative options, other than the ‘parliamentary’ and Royal Commission models proposed during consultation.

“This doesn’t mean Auckland Council says ‘no’ to Māori wards,” he said.

“We want to get this right from the start to ensure we are creating a legacy everyone in our city can be proud of.

“There are problems with current Auckland Council representations wider than just Māori seats and these all need to be considered once the new government engages with Auckland over a proposed City Deal,” said Mayor Brown. 

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