Apr 11, 2011

Goff, Maori wards and Te Ururoa Flavell

Here are a few things that caught my attention over the weekend: 

  • E tu Ake, one of the largest ever exhibitions of ancient taonga and contemporary Maori art, is know open at Te Papa. The exhibition will run through to June and will then begin an international tour. You should check it out if you have a spare few hours. 

  • It is encouraging to see Phil Goff attack the government over the Petrobras permit. Goff was very careful in terms of how he framed his attack, he did not attack the fact that the permit was granted; rather he directed his attack at the fact that the government has no mechanisms in place to deal with a disaster. Both Goff and Parekura Horomia have indicated “soft” support for Te Whanau a Apanui. I wonder when the Maori Party will?

  • The Palmerston North City Council is considering Maori wards. This is excellent news. Maori are woefully underrepresented in local government and the makeup of government largely determines whose interests will be served. Consequently Maori issues are ignored and Maori views are not taken into account. Maori are continually excluded from local government and this exclusion is, in my opinion at least, the chief cause of voter apathy. I hope the PNCC have the guts to stare the down the inevitable redneck opposition. I also hope, should the Council go through with the idea, that it sets a precedent.

The last point I will address is, in my mind at least, the most significant.

  • Did anyone else find it bizarre that Te Ururoa Flavell has taken to defending the government over the AMI bailout. This from TeUruroa:                                                                                                       
Maori Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell says the government's $500 million bail-out of AMI insurance is in keeping with the spirit of whanauangatanga seen throughout the response to the Christchurch earthquakes.
“We've seen that demonstration of that whananugatanga in the last couple of months and this sort of move by the government is along the same lines of whanau supporting whanau and one could say that New Zealand is a whanau when it comes to catastrophies,” 
It is not the job of a minor coalition partner to defend government action, especially when that action is not related to policy contained within the coalition agreement, or in this case the Maori Party/National confidence and supply agreement. The AMI bailout does not touch on any of the Maori Party’s core policy nor is it clearly Maori related. So why bother defending the bailout?
I tend to think it has something to do with softening the government’s image. The Maori Party will almost certainly prop up a second term National government; however the leadership knows that supporting a second term National government is unacceptable to Maori. Therefore, the Maori Party needs to coat the Nats in brown i.e. put a Maori spin on government action. Maori will feel more comfortable with the idea of a second term National government if they perceive that government to be working in a manner consistent with Maori values.


  1. No local authority has actually used the process to create Maori wards in the Local Electoral Act, however, it won't be enough for the Council to stare down opposition. 5% of eligible local voters can sign a petition requiring it to be put to a local referendum (for the purpose of getting them introduced, or getting them abolished).

  2. Thanks for that, Graeme. If the issue is put to a local referendum I think it could go either way.

  3. I thought that EBoP's Maori seat was created through that act? If not, how was that established?

  4. Kia ora anon,

    Through the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Māori Constituency Empowering) Act 2001.

  5. Anon - yes. The regional council asked that special legislation be passed allowing it. Following the experience, the Local Electoral Act was amended to allow councils to go through a process of setting up such wards without special legislation.

    No council has yet used this process although some councils have used the similar process to adopt the Single Transferable Vote voting system.

    The council can make the decision itself, or the council can decide to hold a local poll (i.e. referendum) or locals themselves can demand a referendum.

  6. I'm a Palmy resident and it is interesting to see that the Māori Wards have not hit the local newspaper yet. I am sure it will and I'm also sure that there will be a public backlash.



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