Sunday, May 9, 2021

Maori wards: what councillors who vote 'no' can expect

“Tears, anger and heartache followed tangata whenua out of the room as an historic opportunity became, in the eyes of some, cynical sidelining.”

That was the opening sentence on Stuff’s report of last week’s meeting at which Manawatu district councillors voted 6-4 against the creation of Maori wards.

Stuff reported that the council voted to defer a decision until 2024, “amid accusations [that] aspirations of re-election were put ahead of their convictions”.

Now there’s a textbook example of objective, coolly dispassionate 2021-style journalism for you.

The story was written under the byline of Sinead Gill. I don’t recognise the name, but let me guess: she’s young, idealistic, university-educated, and has been taught to believe, like many journalists of her generation, that her role is to function as an advocate for repressed minorities.

Gill clearly disapproved of the councillors who voted “no”, but like all journalists she enjoys the benefit of not being accountable to voters. This makes it easy to claim the moral high ground. Power without responsibility, to quote Stanley Baldwin’s famous utterance about the British press.

Stuff’s emotive story demonstrates what councillors who oppose the creation of Maori wards, for perfectly proper and legitimate reasons, are up against. In having the courage to act on their convictions, they risk denunciation from partisan news media.

But they have a responsibility to vote as they believe their constituents would want them to, and those councillors can fortify themselves with the knowledge that their decision was almost certainly in line with the majority view as reflected whenever the question of Maori wards has been put to a popular vote (that is to say, before the current government, in a flagrantly anti-democratic manoeuvre, abolished that option). In the Manawatu, 77 percent of respondents voted against Maori wards in a 2018 referendum.

Stuff’s account also shone a light on another, more visceral disincentive faced by councillors brave enough to consider voting “no”. The council chamber was reportedly crammed with “marae representatives, tamariki and mokopuna” who performed a haka ahead of the vote. It takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to stand firm in the face of such a highly charged demonstration, as the organisers would have known. A haka may be friendly or unfriendly, but in this type of context its effect can be intimidating.

Stuff quoted Manawatu mayor Helen Worboys and her deputy, Michael Forde, as saying they personally favoured a Maori ward but were worried about the public reaction. “I favour equity over equality,” Forde was reported as saying, “but as an elected representative, I represent the community. I’d say the community isn’t ready for a Maori ward just yet.”

Other councillors voted “no” because they wanted more time to “educate” voters about Maori wards so that if one was adopted, it would be with majority support.

But here’s a better idea. The next local government elections will be held in October next year. What’s to stop Maori candidates from standing under the existing arrangements, in which case there can be no arguments about democratic legitimacy?

Barbara Cameron, whom Stuff describes as Maori, was on the Manawatu council for 15 years before stepping down in 2019. Clearly, then, voters will elect good Maori candidates, just as they have done many times in other parts of New Zealand. Cameron was quoted as being disappointed with the council’s decision, but her own example exposes the fallacy of the argument that Maori can succeed only via race-based wards.  

Meanwhile, it’s reported that Kapiti District Council, on the advice of its iwi “partners”, unanimously agreed last week not to establish Maori wards – for now, at least.

On the face of it, this looks encouraging; but reading between the lines, I’d guess the local Kapiti iwi have made a shrewd strategic decision to take a different route – one that could ultimately secure them far more influence in local governance than could be achieved by a mere one or two seats at the council table.  

Footnote: This is a slightly amended version of the original post.


David George said...

There's something seriously wrong with the move to separate Maori wards, aided and encouraged by central government without any mandate on this issue.

We have a foundational principle, the idea of equality before God and before the law, being casually dismissed as if it is of no consequence. I've not seen any of the separatist promoters even mention it, much less wrestle with this contradiction and likely longer term consequences of the abandonment of this sacred principle.

"On that same day, observing one working on the Sabbath Jesus said to him O Man, if indeed thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blest; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the Law."

Jordan Peterson explains: "If you understand the rules - their necessity, their sacredness, the chaos they keep at bay, how they unite the communities that follow them and the price paid for their establishment and the danger of breaking them - but you are willing to fully shoulder the responsibility of making an exception, because you see it serving a higher good (and if you are a person of sufficient moral character to manage that distinction), then you have served the spirit, rather than the mere law and that is an elevated moral act. But, if you refuse to realise the importance of the rule you are appropriately and inevitably damned.

In short: Our government knowest not and we are damned.

CXH said...

The Maori wards seem to be designed to be the direct representatives of all local Maori. Surely, once created in an area, local Maori should be banned from elections. In fact Maori should not even have a vote in local elections, as they will already be represented.

The method of picking their representatives could involve elections of course, which non Maori would be banned from. This would be a decision purely for the iwi to decide.

Odysseus said...

Now that He Puapua is in the public domain it's clear that the abolition of referenda on Maori wards was a first step in an extremist agenda to establish 50/50 "co-governance" at all levels of government in New Zealand. This would mean in effect the votes of some 15 percent of the population who identify as Maori would carry the weight of 50 percent of the franchise, or one Maori vote would be worth more than three non-Maori votes. On top of that an inter-tribal committee would monitor compliance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and report to the UN! It is a completely perverse interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi which established the equality of all before the law under the Sovereign. It's hard to think of historical parallels beyond apartheid in South Africa and the Spartans and the Helots of Ancient Greece where a minority dominated and oppressed the majority.

We applaud those Councillors who undertook to consult their communities on Maori wards in the face of intimidation and slander. That takes courage. But with the Labour government with all its resources including many in the media promoting separatism under some academic definition of "equity", it's hard to see how this pernicious agenda can be stopped any time soon.

Russell Parkinson said...

While the people can no longer overturn a council decision on this by referendum there is nothing stopping any council from holding their own referendum to poll the wishes of their ratepayers.

Karl du Fresne said...

I suspect co-governance is what iwi leaders are angling for in Kapiti - hence their disinclination to be distracted by Maori wards, which would deliver far less power.

Max Ritchie said...

Sadly, you are absolutely right - Maori are seeking co-governance. Ultimately their aim is a Maori Upper House and everything in between. Co-leadership a la the Green Party? We are all represented by a Maori in Tauranga, Simon Bridges. Voted in largely by non-Maori who are perfectly happy with his performance. All government in NZ should follow this model.

Eamon Sloan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Wahlberg said...


"Marae, iwi and hapū have broken ties with the Manawatū District Council over accusations of cowardice and disrespect.

Te Kōtui Reo Taumata, the Manawatū collective of tangata whenua, have expressed their dismay at the council's unwillingness to establish a Māori ward, and have vowed not to return to the council table until one is established.

Collective spokesperson Meihana Durie said the council’s move on May 6 to defer a decision on Māori wards ran the risk of the region appearing “backward” during a national move towards co-governance.

He said the collective “vehemently contested the decision” and would take their case further, including to the Minister of Local Government and the Waitangi Tribunal".

Johnston said...

All this kicked off in 2011 when Dame Sian Elias launched Generation Zero at the University of Victoria Law School.

It was a very weird launch. I was allowed to come but it was emphasised very strongly that the meeting was being held under Chatham House rules. And I recall someone saying something like Dame Sian Elias needed to be a little careful in her involvement.

Since then, these foreign-funded groups have proliferated massively and have been working in cahoots, on waves of foreign money, to prepare the country for the changes that are beginning to be seen and felt. They have captured media, civil society, academia, the tech sector and government departments. The large amounts of money at these groups' disposal, and the extent to which their activities have been coordinated, has largely gone uncommented on.

We need reporters and historians to work hard to determine who set these changes in motion, who funded it all, and whom it has benefited. I know a lot of those organisations seem Maori-led or have Maori names, but this is a coordinated movement from outside the country. These groups collaborate in a variety of ways, eg:

We seem to have a new political process developing whereby:

1. QUANGOS with some association to the UN and the sort of people who fund the UN (Rockefellers, etc) are elected to advisory roles or to committees in political appointments;
2. Those QUANGOs and individuals then appear on broadcast media and the press and on social media to push ideas of benefit to their funders, often advocating for total system change;
3. Legislation is drafted with deference to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals;
4. Those QUANGOS and individuals then make recommendations at select committee sometimes on policy they had some input in;
5. The public is ignorant but when some aspect of it comes out that might offend the majority of the public's sensibilities, people from those QUANGOS and other interested individuals pronounce harsh judgement to dissenters in the press and on social media.

In any case there seems less input by the public and more and more deference to international commitments concerning indigenous people, world poverty, and so forth. To UN metrics.

The government's decision-making process should reflect the public's interests and be in their interest and they must participate, no ifs, no buts.

But because of the media's dismal performance the public has been ignorant of this trend, and only catches flashes of how alien these plans have become from the interests of ordinary working people.

Doug Longmire said...

Well done for the councilors who stood up to the intimidation and voted against the racist Maori wards.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that this government is determined to destroy democracy in New Zealand. This is being done by using "climate emergency", "hate speech" laws being suggested, racist wards and Maori Health bodies with veto powers, and of course, the plan to have Maori dictatorship by 2050. All of these plans are being vigorously pushed through, some under the guise of "emergency".
Looking ahead to Zimbabwe/Cuba - the socialist fascist state of New Zealand (which of course will be renamed by then)

transpress nz said...

Stuff now make use of several journalist student 'interns' who need to get bylines as part of their courses; I suspect that Stuff don't pay them, or it's a pittance if they do. Sinead Gill is probably an example.

Being a member of the Wokerati and ideally a member of Labour or the Green Party is almost certain to be a requirement of employment by the legacy media now.

One big issue that these 'white-privilege' Woke-ists ignore, probably because they are blissfully ignorant of it, is inter-iwi conflict. Different iwi often don't get on well and at times it is intense hostility, almost a return to the musket wars of 200 years ago. Which iwi a successful ward Councilor belongs to will probably affect perceptions of them and their ability to achieve anything useful.

David George said...

In reply to Eamon, there's no real proof required to get on the Maori role. My brother's on it even though we only have a tiny and, in my view, completely irrelevant amount of Maori blood.
In the case of the electoral role you have to identify your tribal (iwi?) affiliations but generally the question is what you "identify" with. There's no real checking up.
It's entirely subjective but close enough for government work. There's probably no real impediment to the whole country declaring themselves Maori - Maori being the word for "those from this place - something like that. Pacific Islander would be technically correct for all of us as well - those born here anyway.

Owen said...

While all this undemocratic process and intimidation continues the gap between the elite Maori with their feet in the trough and the broken lives, drug ridden, law breaking Maori youth continues. If the same effort was directed toward the problems their young people face that is being put into building an apartheid state many lives would be helpfully transformed.

David McLoughlin said...

Interesting item in Newsroom, which used the OIA to discover that officials warned the Government not to rush the Maori Wards change through without proper planning or select committee hearings:

Good to see that on Newsroom, which is usually woker than most on the usual subjects.

I chortled at this quote in the story, from LGNZ (which supported the removal of polls): “It was really problematic in terms of community relationships, having piles of white people marching down the roads trying to stop these sorts of things..."

Doug Longmire said...

Having thought about this, I find that the allowing an aggressive racist mob to confront, and threaten the councilors up close and personal, is totally unacceptable.
Am I being too tough?
Well - would it be allowed for a KKK mob to have occupied the public area, and chant their racist slogans and threats to the councilors ? Of course not - the police would have been called asap.

Clearly this is another step on the way to Ardern's socialist AohTeeAhrower state, ruled by a binary racist half democratic , half Maori dictatorship. The ruination of our country is now under way.

Johno said...

And on it goes with this unedifying circus in Parliament today:

PS: What is with the floral arrangements?

CXH said...

For once Kelvin Davis made a sensible statement. After Waititi was removed, he said anyone that gets 1.2% of the vote can't claim to speak for all Maori.