Bugger trying to woo local voters – the smart way to power is through Treaty settlements

Forget about all this democracy stuff.

There are short-cuts to getting a place at the local authority decision-making table – or close enough – without having to go through all that messy stuff about winning support from voters.

Nah, nuts to all that. If you are an indigenous person with tribal inclinations you can count on non-Maori decison-makers – if you approach the right ones – being only too anxious to let you in

That’s how Taranaki’s indigenous persons will soon be flexing their iwi muscle with the Taranaki Regional Council

The good people of Taranaki – who have shown a distinct preference for making their indigenous big-wigs earn their council posts the hard way – accordingly have been gazumped.

Alf senses the craven aiding and abetting of Christopher Finlayson may be found in there somewhere.

But let’s go back to this Radio NZ news item in April last year. 

We were told then:

A northern Taranaki iwi, Te Atiawa, is optimistic that there will be dedicated Maori seats on the New Plymouth District Council.

On 15 April the council voted down the proposal to install six tribal representatives on standing committees with full voting rights, saying it would be undemocratic to have un-elected Maori spokespeople.

The tribe’s Treaty claims negotiator, Peter Moeahu, is appealing to the local Te Tai Hauauru MP, Tariana Turia, and the Chief Crown Treaty negotiator to intervene.

He says it is just a matter of time and iwi will be sitting at council table and doesn’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be…

It’s just a matter of time if you know how to short-circuit the electoral process.

Or if local authorities do the short-circuiting.

At that time Moeahu was illuminating:

The Te Atiawa man says Taranaki Regional Council has proposed to include iwi at the decision making table which they have accepted, but it won’t happen until all Taranaki tribes have settled their Treaty of Waitangi claims with the Crown.

He says Taranaki iwi intend to have representatives at both the local district council and regional council levels.

Mr Moeahu says democracy will still be retained because tribal representatives on standing committees will make recommendations for the full council to determine whether or not to accept them.

He says if two iwi chairs can persuade the other nine councillors to their point of view, he expects the council could be more open to iwi suggestions.

Things are moving on quite nicely for the iwi.

Radio NZ this morning reported: 

Maori are likely to have permanent representation on two of theTaranaki Regional Council’s powerful standing committee by the end of the year.

A mechanism giving iwi three representatives on the Policy and Planning and Regulatory committees is included in the Treaty settlements of Te Atiawa, Taranaki and Ngaruahine.

The kaitumuaki of Te Korowai o Ngaruahine Trust Cassandra Crowley said the mechanism would be triggered for all Taranaki iwi who wanted to be involved when the first settlement was approved by legislation. That was expected to be Ngaruahine’s, and within the next three months.

The extraordinary thing is that Ms Crowley said a regional council had similar responsibilities to the te ao Maori concept of a kaitiaki and iwi were looking forward to working with it to protect the Taranaki environment.

Not really,

Regional councils are democratically elected forms of local government.

In Alf’s experience your iwi aren’t too keen on the voting bit of that arrangement.

That was all too clear when Moeahu was talking to Radio NZ last year and said northern Taranaki tribes intended to put their best people forward to sit on local councils.

He says they may not necessarily be elected representatives of the iwi.

Instead, they may be people who are skilled in local government, who are knowledgeable about the law and who can debate and influence the outcome of decisions.

And then were given another extraordinary example of iwi thinking on how a modern government should be made accountable to the public:

Mr Moeahu says in his view they will not be political appointments, but people who can do the best for both Maori and general communities.

Not political appointments?

That’s like saying The Pope doesn’t have a religious job.

Never mind the clear evidence that the people of New Plymouth and the Taranaki district would rather they got their seats the hard way, like anybody else in their comunities.

That’s  clear from this Stuff report: 

While New Plymouth is voting on the establishment of Maori wards the regional council and iwi of Taranaki are forging ahead with their own representation arrangement.

As part of their treaty settlements Te Atiawa, Taranaki and Ngaruahine negotiated provisions ensuring iwi representatives had a place on Taranaki Regional Council standing committees.

Three individuals will be appointed to the policy and planning committee and three to the consents and regulatory committee, Te Korowai o Ngaruahine Trust general manager Cassandra Crowley said.

While the representation arrangement has been talked about since the middle of last year it took a step closer on Monday when the Ngaruahine Claims Settlement Bill went before Cabinet for consideration.

It could take months for Cabinet to enact the legislation but once that process was complete it would allow the TRC to make the appointments.

“We’re one step closer. It will be within a year,” Crowley said.

It’s a measure of the way our indigenous persons prefer to do things that Crowley said it could take months for Cabinet to enact the legislation.

That would get around all that crap about having bills go through a Parliamentary process.

Just how the indigenous appointments will be made in Taranaki, by the way, is a mystery.

Exactly how the representatives will be selected has not been revealed but a draft plan was submitted to TRC chief executive Basil Chamberlain last week.

A final note: We are reminded by Stuff that last year the New Plymouth District Council voted in favour of establishing a ward – which would see one Maori seat at the council table – but a petition against the decision saw the issue go to a binding referendum and vote which closes on Friday.

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