7 Jul 2009

Maori should get seats on super-city, MPs told

7:51 pm on 7 July 2009

Maori seats should be included on Auckland's super-city, major groups have told a select committee on the city's governance.

The Auckland Regional Council, the Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association, and iwi Ngati Whatua were presenting their submissions supporting the inclusion of Maori seats on a super-council.

The Government has rejected a Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommendation that the super-city council have three three seats reserved for Maori.

But the Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association believes three seats should be reserved for Maori.

Chief executive Alasdair Thompson admitted the association's position would surprise some on the Local Government select committee, particularly National MPs. He says the seats should be democratically elected.

Mr Thompson says the seats could be based on Maori electoral boundaries or be decided by the Local Government Commission in consultation with tangata whenua (people of the land).

However, Mr Thompson says the association does not support elites appointing who the representatives should be.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee told the select committee it supported the establishment of 22 seats on the super-council, including two Maori seats.

Ngati Whatua told the committee it would be evil for Maori not to have seats on the new council. A trustee for the iwi, Ngarimu Blair, said the current council structure treats Maori like a risk needing to managed.

The iwi's submission suggests two Maori seats on the Auckland super-council, one from Ngati Whatua, and one from Tainui, elected by Maori roll voters.

Select committee member and Labour MP Shane Jones says the iwi put forward a strong case. The committee's chair, Associate Local Government Minister John Carter, says it would be inappropriate to comment on the issue yet.

Boundary concern

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee told MPs the proposed southern boundary is a major concern and the regional council believes it should be extended further south.

Mr Lee says the boundary should be extended to include Franklin, north of the Waikato River, to allow for the growth expected in the Auckland region over the next 10 years.

He says deliberately placing important infrastructure outside of the super-city boundary seems to fly in the face of the rationale for reforming Auckland's local government in the first place.