23 Apr 2014

Iwi hopeful on Maori council seats

7:07 am on 23 April 2014

A northern Taranaki iwi, Te Atiawa, is optimistic that there will be dedicated Maori seats on the New Plymouth District Council.

On 15 April the council voted down the proposal to install six tribal representatives on standing committees with full voting rights, saying it would be undemocratic to have un-elected Maori spokespeople.

The tribe's Treaty claims negotiator, Peter Moeahu, is appealing to the local Te Tai Hauauru MP, Tariana Turia, and the Chief Crown Treaty negotiator to intervene.

He says it is just a matter of time and iwi will be sitting at council table and doesn't see any reason why they shouldn't be.

Mr Moeahu says northern Taranaki tribes intend to put their best people forward.

He says they may not necessarily be elected representatives of the iwi.

Instead, they may be people who are skilled in local government, who are knowledgeable about the law and who can debate and influence the outcome of decisions.

Mr Moeahu says in his view they will not be political appointments, but people who can do the best for both Maori and general communities.

He says he has now proposed that there could be nine councillors and two iwi representatives on the standing committees, which he believes is a fair mix.

The Te Atiawa man says Taranaki Regional Council has proposed to include iwi at the decision making table which they have accepted, but it won't happen until all Taranaki tribes have settled their Treaty of Waitangi claims with the Crown.

He says Taranaki iwi intend to have representatives at both the local district council and regional council levels.

Mr Moeahu says democracy will still be retained because tribal representatives on standing committees will make recommendations for the full council to determine whether or not to accept them.

He says if two iwi chairs can persuade the other nine councillors to their point of view, he expects the council could be more open to iwi suggestions.