This is an interesting debate with interesting thoughts put forward by contributors, some of which I agree with and some I don’t. For what it is worth, I am concerned about the current arrangements in Kapiti for Māori in the Local Government sector. We in council do have the choice to vote on our ‘representation’ makeup every few years which is good.
21 years ago, Kapiti’s ‘Te Whakamienenga O Kapiti’ committee, formed under mayor Jenny Rowan, was a breakthrough concept that has worked well for many years. I had thought it was continuing to provide meaningful representation of all Māori in decision making by KCDC. But increasingly local Māori are telling me they feel disenfranchised and alienated by the decisions made.
I have been soundly and publicly criticized for opening this discussion in other media, and it has hurt, but I am paid to listen to those people; after all they are residents and ratepayers and I am their elected representative on council.
Is the 21-year-old T.W.O.K. committee still valid as the most effective way for all Kapiti’s Māori to be heard and their opinions considered as KCDC makes decisions? We have many who Whakapapa to local iwi who are not represented on T.W.O.K.
Is a Māori seat a valid option? I feel it will reduce the collective voices we have now even further to just one person who is secure in their position for three years, no matter how well they attempt to represent many views. Is a Māori ward an valid option? It could be, but I have been advised that to encourage all Māori in Kapiti to join their own ward will be at the loss of the many unique identities of our separate communities. This was considered at the formation of T.W.O.K., but not chosen for this reason.
Is a Māori Board a valid option, sitting alongside and mirroring the structure of our much loved current Community Boards? I would be interested in your feedback because I have seen this model work successfully in many other districts. Giving Māori the opportunity to vote for a table of elected representatives from across the district and then the opportunity for that table to make decisions without undue influence from council management and governance and to reach and present their consensus to the council after their own consultation with their own people. It could work here and I am really interested on the communities opinions on these options.
One statement that has been made that I do not agree with is ‘ New Zealand is a bi-cultural society’ We are not, we are a multicultural society. And foremost in our multi-cultural society, Pākeha have a treaty with the indigenous Māori. It is in respect of this treaty that I take part in this discussion, after-all I am a party to the Treaty of Waitangi, too.