Consultation is the name of the game – and it’s a thriving industry, too, for special people

Non-Maori had better get used to the idea they must play second fiddle to Maori, especially now that the Government has signed that United Nations stuff which recognises our indigenous people as “special”.

One of the benefits of being special is that you get to be consulted on all sorts of things.

Maori obviously have had some say in the naming of streets in Havelock North, for example. Non-Maori can like it, lump or piss off and live somewhere else.

Alf makes these observations on reading about a fuss over the naming of Te Heipora Place, named after the principal wife of a bloke called Te Hapuku, who is described as an important chief in the area in the 1870s.

Residents objected at a naming and blessing ceremony yesterday morning because they had not been part of the naming process, saying the name was too unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce.

But kaumatua Jerry Hapuku said the name had great significance, and matched Karanema Drive, which was named after Te Heipora’s son or grandson.

The iwi did not intend to compromise. “We want this name on this street. It is how we feel as descendants,” he said.

Yep. That’s how we do things in Godzone nowadays.

Jerry Hapuku and his kinfolk are special and they won’t be compromising.

If the special people refuse to compromise, of course, there is no point in anyone consulting those who are not special, which no doubt is why nobody bothered in the case of the street name in Havelock North.

Nor is there much point in the rest of the neighbourhood kicking up a fuss, except to see their names in print maybe.

Sue Beaver has owned a section on the street since February and said she was not consulted about the naming. She told iwi representatives that landowners would protest against the name.

The first time she became aware of the name was when her rates bill arrived. “It is not a race issue, the problem is consultation,” she said.

The Herald gives us just a whiff of the naming process.

Hastings District Council planning and regulatory services group manager John O’Shaughnessy said the council had not expected the choice to be controversial. It had completed a report about the significance of the name but if it was referred back to the council it would have to find a solution.

Local authorities can expect a bloody great row, if Maori are not consulted on these matters.

Local Government New Zealand accordingly provides plenty of resources and fact sheets for councils to put them on the right path, including:

* Local Authority Engagement with Maori: A survey of current council practices (2004)

* Local Government Relationships with Maori(2002) – five cases studies

* Liaison and Consultation with Tangata Whenua: A survey of Local Government Practice (1997)

The consultation caper has the great advantage of being a nice job creator for Maori, because consulting is a labour-intensive thing. The job can’t be done by a machine, so far as Alf is aware.

Indeed, the consultation industry probably has grown faster than the policy-advice industry which was the subject of a post here a few days ago.

For example –

the HSNO Act requires ERMA New Zealand to make informed decisions in relation to the interests of Maori, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide sufficient information to make that decision.

Experience from recent considerations suggests that most of the issues that concern Maori are the same practical concerns as those of the wider population. However, these are often cast in a context that is specific to Maori, and unfamiliar to the wider public.

Issues also arise that are specific to the Maori world view, and that view may well vary from one iwi/hapu/whanau to another. In order to capture and address these ideas to the satisfaction of ERMA New Zealand it is essential to enter into comprehensive consultation with Maori.

Consultation must be carried out at a national level unless a case can be made that the eventual distribution of the control agent will be geographically limited.

Some people have landed themselves nice jobs designed to enable scientists to consult with Maori about their research, too.

Elizabeth Cunningham is the Research Manager-Maori for the University of Otago, Christchurch (UOC). She assists staff to improve the responsiveness of their research to the needs and aspirations of Maori, as well as actively promoting developments in this area.

Elizabeth is of both Ngai Tahu and Ngati Mutunga descent. She is the first UOC Research Manager-Maori and has a thorough understanding of health processes and Maori Health needs.

Naturally, appropriate bureaucratic processes have been set up for this consultation carry-on, and University of Otago staff are required to complete “the Consultation with Maori Form.”

You will be contacted for an appointment with Elizabeth Cunningham after you submit your form online.

Alf would like to fill in whatever form is required to arrange to meet with Elizabeth for a chat about her name.

If she is of Ngai Tahu and Ngati Mutunga descent, from which side comes the name “Elizabeth Cunningham”?

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