by John Robinson

We should be one people, voting together for central and local government.  There should be no place for separate Maori wards.

The situation here in Kapiti is far worse.  Maori wards would give Maori those separate places, but with each vote being of approximately equal value.  Then there might be 12 council places for non-Maori and 2 council places for Maori, who make up 14 percent of the Kapiti population – according to information provided in the recent Long Term Plan.

The Kapiti Coast District Council has decided, in negotiations with the mana whenua – the people of three iwi, Ngati Toa, Te Atiawa and Ngati Raukawa – to not introduce Maori wards, but to keep the current system, which is a ‘partnership’ between the two parties, council (we vote for) and mana whenua (a select few). 

Currently, those of the mana whenua have a double power.  Each has a vote in selecting the mayor and councillors, equal to that of the rest of us.  In addition, this small minority of around 4% of the electorate (less than 30% of the 14% who are Maori) act in partnership with council – and so have a considerably greater power than all others.  It is no wonder that these three iwi, this highly privileged 4%, prefer to stick to the status quo.

What is the basis of this privilege?  That their ancestors came in the 1820s to attack, kill and drive off the then inhabitants from their lands, before continuing to murderous raids on the South Island and fighting bloody battles among themselves in 1834 and 1839. 

This is wrong.  It is a sad day when we must consider ourselves as Maori or non-Maori, mana whenua or the other, instead of all together as citizens and as ratepayers living in Kapiti.