Systemic racism at heart of New Zealand’s council Maori wards debate – advocate
Susan Botting from Stuff:
Systemic racism is at the heart of New Zealand’s current council Maori wards debate, according to a leading campaigner for their establishment who spoke in Whangarei on Friday evening.
“Maori wards are but a start and look how that breaks us apart,” Andrew Judd, the former New Plymouth mayor, said.
“If we can’t deal with that, look what that’s teaching the next generation.
“How would you feel if you were only brought out for a powhiri?”
Judd spoke to about 35 people at Saint John’s co-operating golden church in Kensington, in the first of two Whangarei meetings this weekend.
Looks like a Sleepy joe rally
He spoke at a second meeting on Saturday at Onerahi Saint Stephens Anglican church at 10.30am.
Kaipara and Whangarei District Councils, along with Northland Regional Council (NRC), have all in about the last month for the first time voted for Maori wards (district councils) or constituencies (regional council).
But that decision is being challenged in a region-wide campaign to get 11,000 electors’ signatures to demand councils hold a poll on the councils’ decisions.
Polls consistently overturn council votes in favour of Maori seats.
“To be having a petition, what’s happened to us? How would you feel if your community was door knocking to take away your voice?” Judd said.
Judd was at the helm when New Plymouth District Council in 2015 voted for a Maori ward.
But local voters demanded a poll that overturned the decision in an 83 per cent voting majority via what proved to be New Zealand’s most controversial and highly divisive community response on this matter.
He did not stand for re-election in 2016 as a result – and has talked to more than 1000 people across the country since, as part of campaigning to abolish the polling requirement around councils’ Maori wards decisions from the Local Electoral Act.
Judd told the meeting representation was about who New Zealand was as a nation and having Maori at the table.
The country’s Local Government Act requires councils’ Maori participation.
Nick Connop, Whangarei District Council (WDC) councillor, voted for Maori wards in his council’s recent majority vote in their favour.
He said it was important to make a start on having the wards.
“I would happily give up my seat for a Maori ward,” Connop said.
WDC is considering two or three Maori wards. If brought in the wards would come into effect for the 2022 local government elections.
Mike Kake, a member of Northland Regional Council (NRC)’s Tai Tokerau Maori Advisory Committee, attended this evening’s meeting to hear more about Maori wards.
Kake said he was in favour of their establishment and was watching with interest to see how the Government dealt with addressing the right for polling to countermand councils’ decisions in favour of Maori wards.
He said any referendum or polling on Maori wards should be for those on the Maori electoral roll to decide, not the general electoral population.
Northland’s leading the way nationally with the establishment of Maori wards. KDC, WDC and NRC make up the only regional group among New Zealand’s record nine councils which have this year voted to have the Maori wards for the 2022 and 2025 local body elections.
The other six councils are Gisborne, New Plymouth, Ruapehu, and Taupo District Councils along with Tauranga City Council.
If the Maori cannot get out and vote for any Maori candidate who wishes to stand for election, then they lose any right to a “special seat”Talk about being patronising. It’s a slap in the face for all the Maori who have stood for election and been elected to council “on their merits”