28 Apr 2015

Majority Wellington Māori oppose supercity

7:38 pm on 28 April 2015

Most of Wellington region's grassroots Māori oppose the plan for a supercity that would see them lose their voice on local councils.

Like much of the general community, they are against the model, however iwi leaders say there are benefits to dealing with one authority for the greater Wellington region.

Chairperson of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust Neville Baker said the kōrero that he had heard on the ground differed from what iwi leaders were saying at the top.

Mr Baker of Te Ātiawa said while a supercity may work for Ngāti Whātua in Auckland, it did not mean it would work for Wellington, Te Whanganui-ā-Tara.

Neville Baker.

Chairperson of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust Neville Baker. Photo: RNZ

"Around Waiwhetū Marae there's opposition to it", Mr Baker said.

"So there's not one common view and I think that's healthy because what we don't want is direct opposition... but they need to be considered in the light of where we are at the present time".

Mr Baker said Māori rights must be enshrined in the model, and the iwi trust needed to take a cautious approach.

"The important thing is to be able to ensure that those customary rights, those treaty rights, those areas of the settlement that have been agreed to are enduring and, you know, change is taking place all the time so you don't necessarily have to commit to something because of the wider view that's held".

Ray Wallace.

Lower Hutt mayor Ray Wallace. Photo: RNZ / Eru Rerekura

The mayor of Lower Hutt Ray Wallace was very clear about what should happen.

"No, I think if we sit back we will be steam-rolled into a supercity", Mr Wallace said.

"The community have spoken loud and clear, 75 percent across the entire region do not want a supercity, we need to stand up now and be counted otherwise we will end up with a system that nobody really wants".

And the Kāpiti Coast District's mayor Ross Church agreed.

He said he was against the plan and hoped that his model of Māori representation could be used.

"We've got a very strong example of how it can work up here, we have the body Te Whakaminenga", Mr Church said.

"And Kāpiti Coast District Council has a 21-year relationship with that body and Te Whakaminenga is a combination of the three iwi in our district.

"And I'm sure that we could spread the word into a Wellington supercity so rather than it [the Māori voice] get lost I would hope that our relationship would encourage others to work the same way that it works for us, and it works very very well".

Mayor of Porirua, Nick Leggett, in front of a painting by Robyn Kahukiwa.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett. Photo: RNZ / Gareth Thomas

Mayor of Porirua Nick Leggett and local iwi Ngāti Toa are the only two in favour of the plan.

Mr Leggett believed it would give mana whenua a stronger voice and more influence.

"Having one region would be a very good way to be able to work with the seven local iwi of the region as one group, reflecting that the different interests and the different geographical interests that they represent", Mr Leggett said.

"I think there's a real strength in amalgamation, it allows mana whenua voice to be at the table for all of the big decisions that affect the region, as well being reflected locally as well.

But Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown and Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy don't want to see a supercity happen.

They said Māori residents did not want the amalgamation, and were keen to retain their own identity and tino rangatiratanga.

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