Maori ward ‘the right thing to do’ – Nelson Mail

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City councillors have their say on a Maori ward in Nelson:

Aldo Miccio:Ongoing legislative, Local Government Act and Resource Management Act changes mean the council will have to give consideration to Maori views in all it does. There will be benefits to the Nelson community from Maori wanting to invest $400 million in the top of the South Island through the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process, and from giving cultural redress in terms of a Maori voice under treaty obligations. It’s simply the right thing to do.

Eric Davy:This was the only way to get this into the community for their involvement due to the short notice we got. This will allow for a poll of electors to make the final decision on what the community wants.

Paul Matheson:This city and iwi have waited a long time and worked hard to embrace this partnership and to have this resolution rushed through with such short notice and without consultation to the wider electorate is disgraceful. This is a major democratic move and deserves community engagement at all levels and with all sectors to ensure its acceptance is a rewarding experience for all concerned.

Mike Ward:To date Maori have been grossly under-represented. A Maori ward provides a support structure for the Maori councillor and the certainty of representation. While changing to STV (single transferable vote system of election) would have dramatically improved the likelihood of Maori representation we failed to achieve that at the last attempt.

Ruth Copeland:I voted “yes” to the decision to include a Maori ward in Nelson because we face some very real challenges in regards to the wellbeing of our peoples and our natural environment. It’s time for some new thinking. Without Maori input our leadership will be incomplete. We need to walk forward together.

Gail Collingwood:I voted for the resolution as presented because of the time frame constrictions under the Electoral Act. Voting at short notice will allow for the ward to be introduced in 2013 rather than five years away. Over the last decade Nelson has provided proactive leadership in New Zealand in regard to involving Maori in decision making as required by Local Government Act. The Maori ward councillor will be in addition to everything we currently do and is the next step providing a “voice for Maori” in the actual decision-making process.

Pete Rainey:Either you accept New Zealand is a bicultural society, or you don’t. I do. As far as the council is concerned, we have a good relationship with local iwi. However, the voice of iwi is not heard around the council table in a sustained manner. The creation of a Maori ward will allow that to happen, at a time when iwi are poised to become even stronger participants in local affairs. I think this is an inclusive, bold and timely governance decision. There is nothing to fear, this will strengthen council.

Kate Fulton:Treaty settlement negotiations embedded in the Local Government Act already oblige us to work in partnership with iwi, but for me this is about more than just obligation. Within the system of governance that we currently have, the establishment of a Maori ward is the closest we can get to indicating there is a strong desire to form a genuine equal partnership and that Maori values are of cultural significance to our entire community.

Rachel Reese:I voted for the resolution in the report because of the time constraints in the Electoral Act. I do not support the idea that promoting a seat at the council table can be seen as leveraging additional Treaty settlement money into the city. That is a misguided view in my opinion and disrespectful to the integrity of iwi, the independence of local government, and counter to the conflict of interest provisions that apply to all elected members.

Creating a Maori seat at the council table is one way that we can recognise the special status of the Treaty of Waitangi in our society. Introducing a Maori seat may also encourage more Maori to vote and participate in local democracy.

Jeff Rackley:Agrees with the mayor.

Ali Boswijk:The timeframe imposed on us meant that if this did not proceed now it would be another two to three years until it would be considered again and then five before a ward could come into being. We have a legal obligation to engage with Maori as part of our decision-making and we could just do the minimum. However, Nelson has made great strides in recent years to do more than just the minimum. To make provision for one voice out of 13 to represent a Maori perspective is, for me, the right thing to do. The wider perspective we can have on issues the better we will deal with them.

Derek Shaw:I supported the Maori ward proposal because it is another step forward in council’s evolving relationship with local iwi/Maori. I believe local iwi/Maori are now in a position to increase their contribution and should be given the opportunity to have an input into decisions at the council table. I regard the decision as a logical extension of the views in council’s decision to the Local Government Commission on the proposal for the union of Nelson City and Tasman District that supported the establishment of a Maori ward for the new council if the union proceeds.

Councillor Ian Barker is overseas and did not attend last week’s meeting.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/5934693/Maori-ward-the-right-thing-to-do

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