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Want local democracy? Too bad

Written By: - Date published: 8:55 pm, August 24th, 2009 - 45 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack - Tags:

Remember when John Key and Rodney Hide were saying that nothing was decided on the super-city, that the select committee would listen to the people and report back the changes they wanted?

Well, not only did the people let the Government know time and again that they didn’t want any supercity, a majority of submitters said if there was to be a supercity there should be Maori seats. They were, predictably, ignored*. Supercity goes ahead and without Maori seats.

Even Audrey Young is flabbergasted at the Key Government’s complete lack of respect for the process and its tin ear for public concerns. I doubt her concern will make it into the print edition though. I doubt the Herald will feel the need to fly its ‘democracy under attack’ banner as Auckland’s local government is stolen from the people and reshaped in the interests of National/ACT’s big business backers.

The Right gets exactly what it wants. All Pita Sharples can do is whine that the other boys are playing too rough.

Welcome to democracy under the Key Government boys and girls. Democratic process reduced to farce. Naked power grabs by the parties of the wealthy elite. A party based in leftwing principles so enslaved it will continue to vote for a rightwing government that completely ignores its wishes on an issue of central importance to its raison d’etre A complicit corporate media paying lip service to its duty to hold politicians to account to their promises and democracy.

Not exactly as advertised huh?

*[cue rightwingers in the thread ‘but Labour ignored submitters on the EFB – no, they changed it so the Human Rights Commission, for one, dropped its initial opposition – and, anyway, isn’t Key meant to be giving us a brighter future?]

45 comments on “Want local democracy? Too bad ”

  1. Every single council person could be a Maori, every single seat could be taken by a Maori, if Maori run for each seat in the next election, its called democracy.

    Having a seat set aside for one race is called racism.

    • Rex Widerstrom 1.1

      A question for those who are following this in more detail than I… does “Maori seats” assume a mutually exclusive dual roll, as with Parliamentary seats, with voters opting for one or the other, but not both?

      I’d also assume such seats would be needed if all seats on Council were ward votes rather than “at large” or a mix of both? Surely provided some or all seats are “at large” votes, Maori (and other ethnic and interest groups) would achieve representation. Or am I assuming incorrectly?

    • Armchair Critic 1.2

      I’d always wondered why your argument is a dumb-arse one.
      Try this – the seats would be set aside for the descendants of people who, by and large, had arrived before the ToW was signed, and who owned the land when the ToW was signed. With whom the Crown has an ongoing relationship, including a set of obligations. In short, it’s nothing to do with race, though if you feel like shit stirring please continue to run your dumb-arse argument. I can’t think any less of you for doing so.
      Oh, and the super city won’t be super, just big.

    • roger nome 1.3


    • pam 1.4

      I agree with Brett Dale. If Maori want to be represented then vote them in. If other nationalites want to be part of our Multi cultural society then vote them in.

      Giving them two seats to start IS racisim. What more do they want gifted to them? Be like the rest of us and stand and be counted on voting day!

      To all Maori elected into Parliment put up your worthy candidates for a proper election!

  2. Gosman 2

    I don’t think the issue was ever about whether or not the Super City should go ahead. That had already been decided as a result of the Royal Commission, (Which the Labour led government set up it must be stated), and the enabling legislation passed earlier on this year.

    It has always been the form of such a Super City that has been up for public input. In that you might have a point about the Maori seats on the Council however has the results of the Select committee hearings been publicied then?

    • Eddie 2.1

      No. There should have been a referendum to determine if Aucklanders want the merger. All the polls show they don’t

      • Tim Ellis 2.1.1

        So Eddie, will your friend Len Brown campaign on abolishing the super city?

        • Eddie

          I doubt it. You can’t go chopping and changing at enormous cost every few years. But he might establish the sub-councils like the royal commission recommended to restore some local democracy

          • Eddie

            Also, he wouldn’t have the power to disestablish the council, it would have to go through the local government commission process – the one that National has short-circuited to get its own way.

  3. Gooner 3

    Absolutely Eddie. And I fully expect you to write a post equally as scathing of Key who is ignoring the 88% who voted NO in the petition on Saturday.

    • Eddie 3.1

      What’s Key supposed to do? Make something that isn’t illegal even less illegal?

      You’re getting your sop, some new guidelines, what more can you expect from a question that doesn’t mandate a change in the law?

      • Rex Widerstrom 3.1.1

        Back in 2007 proponents of MMP in Ontario were blaming the wording of the question for the defeat of their proposition.

        I happen to believe NZers were duped on the supposed benefits of MMP during our referendum on the topic.

        But we have to assume that people voting know exactly what it is they’re voting for* or we set ourselves up as arbiters of the public mind, which we’re not. And in this case (he says, attempting to read the public’s mind 😛 ) it seems pretty clear it was to throw out Bradford’s law change.

        What is unclear is whether they’d want a return to the previous status quo, the Borrows amendment, or something else. The only sure way of determining that would be further referenda.

        * Or, as I have advocated before, compile a non-partisan multi-choice test on the referendum topic, with a certain mimimum score being required before voting eligibility but no limit on the number of attempts to get it right. This would require, however, that some people get over their fear of electronic voting which is based on outdated Diebold-type technology. Then we could have multi-choice referenda rather than one blunt yes/no question!

      • Gooner 3.1.2

        Select Committee submitters can’t mandate change either.

        • Eddie

          the purpose of the select committee process is for submitters to be able to contribute input to help shape the final legislation. So, yes, submitters can mandate change. In more technical regulatory bills, they often get very significant changes are a result of the process.

          Rex. I’m not arguing the people didn’t know what they were voting against the law as it stands. I still don’t think you can say that a vote on that question is a mandate for any specific change.

          • Rex Widerstrom

            Eddie, if you agree that people were voting against the law as it stands but there’s no way of telling what they want to replace it, then surely the only honourable course for Key is to return to the pre-Bradford status quo?

            It would then be up to those wanting change to promote their alternatives by way of referendum (or legislation).

            • Eddie

              Ah Rex, you’re moving me into checkmate here, not on top of my game this evening 🙂

              Fortunately, I don’t have to be fair and balanced – and scale matters. I don’t care so much about some law that isn’t being used anyway, I do care about the Right stealing away democracy in our largest city.

            • wtl

              People were voting for or against exactly that question. Apart from that, you can’t say anything else about what the voters intentions were (as a whole). Therefore, if one is going by the result, the law should be changed so that “a smack as part of good parental correction is not a criminal offence”. If the referendum organisers really wanted a mandate for the pre-Bradford law, they should simple have asked the question “Should the amended to S59, which removes the defence of reasonable force etc. be repealed”. Instead, they chose a question which was likely to get a very large majority for the answer they wanted. And even though many voters many have been voting for exactly that (the s59 amendment repealed), no one can say with any certainty what the electorate wants without a new referendum.

              Anyway, I’m done arguing about this. I’m with Eddie and think this is a peripheral issue which is a lot less important that other things such as the loss of democracy in Auckland or lack of action on climate change.

            • Rex Widerstrom

              For the record, so do I. But I think consistency is important in our leaders, and so is principle and a respect for democracy.

              The reason I see this as important is that it is such a small issue, and one that, if he honoured the outcome, wouldn’t risk any adverse reaction from National’s base.

              Which makes it all the more arrigant of Key to ignore it. He doesn’t even have the excuse of it being bad politics, as he might with the ‘supercity’ or climate change.

      • Mark M 3.1.3

        Your very wrong Eddie.
        Those who voted no were asked should a light smack be illegal.
        Currently a light smack is illegal.

        It is pretty clear that voting no is a mandate to change the law so a light smack is not illegal.

  4. Mothers4Justice 4

    I wish they could change the law so I don’t have to worry bout my 19 kids.
    Anybody seen that d4j C##T?

  5. JohnDee 5

    And the hole just gets deeper and deeper for the Maori Party. They are being shown up to being ineffectual to make any gains for Maori. Three years is all they are going to get before they destruct.

  6. wtl 6

    To be honest, I simple can’t believe that the Maori party is letting this issue go like that. I was at the hikoi, and there was huge support for the Maori seats. Pita Sharples was there and made reassuring noises about the Maori seats, but it appears that noises is all it was. From what I can see, Maori feel strongly about this. They won’t forget the Maori party giving up on the issue so easily.

  7. Eric C. 7

    If the Maori party teamed up with Labour, the Greens and Progressive(s) and brought the National Party Maori MPs (Te Heuheu, Parata, Henare and Quinn) with them they could get the Auckland Maori seats they want.

    Is anyone going to push that button or is all the ‘rage’ just a storm in a tea cup?

    Then again, we wouldn’t want to upset that nice Mr Key.

    • wtl 7.1

      Hmmmm…. Stuff is reporting exactly that, Maori party proposing amendments and getting support of some National MPs. Perhaps that really is the plan?

      • wtl 7.1.1

        Meaning, does anyone think that there could be an ‘arrangement’ between Key and Sharples about this? Or is that going a bit far? Not a good look letting it seem like Hide is running the show though.

        Regardless, it actually isn’t a bad tactic from the Maori Party, as long as they back it up with something stronger if it doesn’t work.

  8. Mothers4Justice 8

    Does the “nice Mr Key” sit down to do wee wee?

  9. Marty G 9

    how are you making your ip jump around like that dad? learning a few new tricks eh? your writing style will always give you away though. don’t know why you always attack yourself when using the other personas. maybe you think you deserve a smack?

  10. It’s strange that so many people don’t see what is in front of them.

    When councillors get elected by their constituents to fill seats on a council or in a parliament, they are our representatives. They are us and we are them. We are not different, we and them. That is our representation.

    They are not privileged; they are our servants.

    If Maoris wish to serve our greatest city, let them stand for election. They are not prevented from doing so and we can all celebrate that. Why should Maoris be exempt from the requirement to be chosen by the people they want to serve?

    Is it because they invoke the mystical rights of “tangata whenua”? I am a third-generation Kiwi of European ancestry, a proud New Zealander with exactly the same claim to be tangata whenua as the proudest Maori.

    This land runs in my blood, its body is my body and we both come from the same source. I don’t accept that the Maori have greater rights to representation than I do.

    The proper purpose of the Treaty of Waitangi is to be an instrument of unity. As two peoples signed it, so those two come together and are united under it. One law for each, no privilege or sanction withheld from either.

    We ought to remove the Maori parliamentary seats, which were a temporary measure anyway, and certainly resist forever the lazy, self-centred but transparent attempts by the Maori Party and others to garner special favour for one race over the other.

    Richard Treadgold.

  11. wtl 11

    The purpose if the Treaty was to allow British settlement here while ensuring the rights of the original inhabitants were maintained. Unfortunately, the Maori have been screwed over ever since. Nevertheless, the original Treaty still stands and the partnership remains – the descendants of the Maori who signed the treaty should be provided proper representation in the government of the land. Nothing to do with race or special favour, but everything to do with honouring the agreement between two parties – now between the descendants of both sides.

    • wtl 11.1

      I’ll just add, no one is taking away your rights or saying that you are any less important because you are not Maori. All that is happening is the we are providing Maori – who were the original inhabitants of this land – a guarantee that they will be listened to when it comes to making decisions about the country. The Maori seats merely provide that guarantee, and that representation is not disproportionate to the population of Maori. Is that such a bad thing?

    • “the descendants of the Maori who signed the treaty should be provided proper representation in the government of the land.”

      The whole electorate is given representation by those they elect. This is the British system, which Maoris embraced in signing the Treaty with the Queen. This is part of the method which delivers the highly-valued British system of justice.

      “Nothing to do with race or special favour”

      But it is necessary to be Maori to be appointed as one of the guaranteed representatives; it is necessary for those representatives to promote the particular interests of Maoris, and that is the very definition of a racial system. So it has everything to do with race and special favour.

      “Is that such a bad thing?”

      Well, yes, it is, because it enshrines in the system what is fundamentally racism. None of us want that. At least, that’s what we all say. The lazy actually do want it, as witnessed by those agitating for guaranteed racial representation.

      I appreciate your comments about not reducing “my” rights to be heard, but, by the very same reasoning, Maoris do not in fact deserve special consideration merely because of their descendants’ prior habitation here. We have all been born in about the last hundred years; here.


      • Pascal's bookie 11.2.1

        “This is the British system, which Maoris embraced in signing the Treaty with the Queen. This is part of the method which delivers the highly-valued British system of justice.”

        There were conditions though Richard. They did not just become subjects of the crown like any other, there were guaranteesmade in return. One of which was continued Tino Rangatiratanga. One way this has been recognised is as a right to guaranteed representation through these types of seats.

        Considering the extent of breaches of the treaty, and lack of recognition of rights, I’m not sure how valuable british justice has been on these shores.

        • Guarantees, yes, and no guarantee could be better than to make the Maoris equal to oneself. Not that anyone could elevate another party higher than themselves, for one cannot bestow powers on another greater than one possesses for oneself.

          The precise translation of tino rangatiratanga is disputed, but however it might be translated, it would not elevate Maori governing power above Pakeha governing power. Nor vice versa, for the treaty was signed between two “equal” parties. In providing for full electorate representation, the Queen provided for everybody. That fulfilled the treaty obligations.

          Remember, too, that in 1863 not even all Pakeha had the right to vote in parliamentary elections — it was based on ownership of land, I think, as it was in Britain. So for all Maori now to have the right to vote is a big advance on what the treaty envisaged.

          Whatever breaches of the treaty occurred previously, it’s notable that, in our manifestation of British law, we are coming to terms with them and attempting to set things right. This has not happened in all places of European settlement.

          I think British justice becomes more valuable the more it is practised.

          But the more significant issue of race-derived measures, answered by me above, seems to have gone unacknowledged.

          There is nothing in the treaty that elevates Maori above Pakeha or vice versa, or gives Maori any special right to representation in governing councils, yet that would be the effect of so-called “guaranteed” representation. For, in setting merely a number of councillors, there is nothing to set their race. If they turned out to be all Maori, good on them.


  12. Batholomew Winstanley the III 12


    What Labour really mean is that they reckon ‘urban Maori’ are likely to be a shoe in for Labour stooges.

    Perhaps if Labour hadn’t alienated Maori and Ratana during the Clark era they wouldn’t be dog whistling over race in Auckland now.

    Issues not race boys eh.

  13. bobo 13

    Well they still got the flag aye ? not all is lost..

  14. Tom Semmens 14

    Sharples was pathetic on morning report just now. Talk about the political battered wife. “Well, yes, John hits me but hey – I understand why he does it, and I love him and nothing will force us apart” would sum up Sharples performance.

  15. lprent 15

    Even the herald has an editorial condemning this weak-kneed response by the cabinet. Definitely a case of the tip of the tail wagging the dog. Pretty useless mutt

  16. gobsmacked 16

    The Herald, day after the Hikoi:

    “Speaking in Wellington after the protest, Mr Key said nothing was off the table while legislation was going through Parliament to set up the structure of the Auckland Council.

    [emphasis added, to highlight John Key’s lie]

    But he repeated that Maori advisory boards were a better means of Maori input and local government legislation allowed communities to decide whether there should be Maori seats, “rather than doing it by decree by Government”.

    His comments were at odds with Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples, who predicted victory for the protesters: “They’re almost ready to give in, don’t give up.”


    And that sums it all up. Key speaks with forked tongue. Fools like Sharples listen and believe.

    This isn’t just about Maori seats in Auckland. It’s about a Prime Minister who simply can’t help himself – he tells people what they want to hear. Different audience, different message – on pretty much everything.

    How stupid do we choose to be?

  17. MikeG 17

    “A spokeswoman for Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said it was up to the select committee to make a recommendation on the northern boundary.”

    So Hide is happy to let the select committee make a recommendation about the boundaries, but not the Maori seats. Irrespective of the arguments for/against Maori seats, the democratic process is once again being abused by this NACT Govt.

  18. Gosman 18

    Referendums on local body amalgamations are pretty much as big a waste of time as the recent referendum on Parentally adminstered correction.

    It is highly unlikely that local communities are going to vote to merge with others into a larger unit where their collective say is going to be significantly reduced.

    Remember the local body reforms in the 1980’s, (introduced by Labour)? There is still a strong body of people pushing for places like Petone to go back to their previous status.

  19. Ianmac 19

    Key must have balanced the fall-out from making a decision against Maori seats, against the fall -out by waiting for the Select Committee. He chose the former. I think that this is a mistake because it will become a hook for “arrogance and denying democracy to the people etc”. Compare this with the claims of denial of democracy through the Electoral Finance Act.

  20. Ianmac 20

    Rex. I am surprised that you of all people believe that the referendum was a clear expression that the NOES wanted a repeal of the Repeal. Sigh.

  21. gobsmacked 21

    Hydra-Headed Monster Update:

    This morning, Sharples has attacked Hide, and Tau Henare has attacked both Hide and Sharples.

    Henare called Hide a “jerk off”.

    Manners not enhanced!

  22. Pascal's bookie 22

    Manners not enhanced!

    heh 🙂

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