If Maori advisory boards aren’t working, let’s save public money by scrapping them

Sandra Lee back in the news? Yep.

Alf had thought she had put herself out to pasture some time back, but she popped up on Radio NZ to blat about Maori representation in local government.

She insists the Auckland Council must act immediately to provide for Maori representation.

This is odd, because Alf was sure he had heard an interview on Morning Report earlier in the week with a Maori bloke who had been elected to the council.

He was saying he would be batting for Maori, if they brought issues to him.

Mind you, he also said he was there to represent all citizens, which makes him sound like a decent bloke and a good democrat, although his thinking might not go down too well with the likes of the Maori Party which prefers Maori representation focused more ethnocentrically on Maori matters.

Actually, the Auckland Council seems to be not too badly balanced.

The NZ Herald summed it up-

The council is a balance of experience, youth and gender. It has eight women councillors, five sitting or former council leaders, and two Pacific Island and two Maori councillors – but no representatives from any other ethnic groups

That’s not good enough for Ms Lee, among others. She says a lot of the new mayor’s support came from Maori, particularly in south Auckland.

She says the council needs to make a clear commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and start work on implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance for Maori seats.

But we’ve been through all that and come up with a system that provides the aforementioned well balanced representation without special seats for Maori.

We opted for Maori advisory boards, although maybe we shouldn’t bother with them, because they are being scorned in some quarters as a waste of time and money.

Alf is prepared to take the advice of Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell who grumbles about the idea of a statutory Maori advisory board.

“There’s still a lot of failings around the whole notion of committees and standing committees and advisory committees, it just doesn’t work.”

Greens co-leader and Maori affairs spokesperson Metiria Turei, likewise, says local government Maori advisory boards don’t work.

Nominations have closed for people to be appointed to a statutory Maori advisory board for the Auckland super city.

She advised –

“We’ve been on advisory boards for 170 years.

“They haven’t been effective for us. They’re just ways of parking Maori issues with the Maoris and leaving the decision makers free to do as they please. If we want to have a truly modern approach to treaty issues we must be at the decision table and that means seats on the Auckland super city,” Ms Turei says.

Fair enough. So dedicated seats are out, because they distort our democracy, and advisory boards don’t work.

What else?

A good old-fashioned dictatorship, maybe, because Alf recalls being told democracy isn’t working either.

Who said that?

Pita Sharples.

Democracy is not working for Maori according to Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.

Sharples says Maori will not be fairly represented in the Auckland super city and that has caused a war of words at parliament.

New Zealand has separate Maori seats in parliament which is something Sharples wants for the super city and he now says democracy is failing Maori.

“There is a democratic process but it’s not working for Maori, they are outside of that system,” Sharples says.

So how come we finished up – among many examples – with Maori councillors in Auckland and a Maori mayor (not for the first time) in Carterton?

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