Tipene Marr believes the only solution for Maori to be better represented in the Rotorua District Council is for them to have their own constituency seats.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council member has been elected in the Kohi Maori seat (Eastern Bay of Plenty) since 2004. The council was the first in the country to have separate Maori seats with successful results, Mr Marr said.
“There’s only one solution around this, every six years or so the [Rotorua District Council] will put it out there for everyone to vote on and it will come back with a big cross because unfortunately non-Maori people are too afraid to give Maori power,” he said. “It was like that in the regional council and 10 years on, it’s a great thing.”
Mr Marr said he brought a tangata whenua voice to the council and the same was needed in Rotorua.
“Maori have rights, they should have proper seats. This new board sounds like another bunch of yes people, recommendations will go to council like they have with the Te Arawa standing committee memos but there’s no one in council to prop them up,” he said.
“They have three permanent Maori councillors who say they don’t need these seats but a lot of their voters are non-Maori. That’s why Maori don’t vote, there’s an apathy, they think the same people will get in anyway and they will do what they want. I say have Maori seats and any other Maori that can get in is a bonus.
“At the regional council, I bring a Maori perspective on things. Before, non-Maori councillors had no idea of the issues that Maori go through but now, generally speaking they realise who we represent and that there is a big population of Maori out there,” he said.
He said the Treaty of Waitangi partnership should be recognised and reflected within councils.
Source: Rotorua Daily Post