Non-elected iwi representatives will have voting rights on Otago Regional Council

With no public engagement that I’m aware of the Otago Regional Councillors have voted to add two non-elected iwi representatives to the council’s policy committee, which includes giving them voting rights.

This looks like an abuse of democracy.

ODT: Ngai Tahu to join ORC today

Ngai Tahu representatives are ready to bring an iwi lens to Otago Regional Council policy-making.

The council is holding an extraordinary meeting beforehand to establish the terms of reference for their appointments.

After a lengthy debate last month, councillors voted seven to three to approach local runaka to appoint two representatives on its policy committee, joining 12 elected councillors.

They will have voting rights and be paid $9957 per year, calculated as 20% of a councillor’s base salary.

Giving voting rights amounting to 1/7 of the council vote (14%) to people who are unelected is a problem to me. There is no indication how they were selected or appointed by Ngai Tahui either.

Cr Michael Laws called the appointment ”undemocratic”.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said it was a way of improving the council’s partnership with iwi.

I have no problem with consulting with Ngai Tahu. I have no problem with the capable people appointed – Edward Ellison and Tahu Potiki.

But there has to be democratic ways of improving the council’s ‘partnership’ with any groups.

This may (should) be a prominent issue in the local body elections later this year.

Should the government take care of people, or enable people to take care of themselves?

Or both to varying degrees?

Is there a natural progression of community and care (for some) from whanaua to hapu to iwi – to Government?

Everyone wants health care provided, and education, a protective police force and a bunch of other things. And many people like financial assistance and housing assistance, if not to be fully provided for.

Richard Harman raised this in his coverage of Labour’s conference in the weekend:

The most eloquent outline to the conference of what that might be came not from her  but from her deputy party leader, Kelvin Davis.

He said that the Labour party was in government to take care of people.

“As a government, we are not only changing policy and legislation,” he said.

“We are changing the way we see ourselves as a country.”

The same idea; that this was a government that was changing things ran through a speech from Finance Minister, Grant Robertson.

From Kelvin Davis’ Speech to the 2018 Labour Party Conference:

We are tackling many hard issues as a government. Housing, child poverty, prison numbers, climate change, improving the wellbeing of our country. None of the answers are easy. But we know taking on these challenges is the right thing to do.

Because, unlike the other lot, when we talk about eradicating child poverty, helping those whanau that are struggling the most, we are not just talking about percentages, headlines and numbers on a spreadsheet.

Poverty has a face. It has names.

We are talking about our neighbours, our friends, our whanau.

And that is what sets a Labour Government apart from the rest.

In the end we are in Government to take care of people

From Grant Robertson’s Speech to the 2018 Labour Party Conference:

Next month the Treasury will release its first Living Standards Dashboard.  This will show a range of indicators of our current wellbeing as a nation.  It includes the tangible, like incomes and home ownership, but also the intangible like life satisfaction and cultural wellbeing.  It is a work in progress.  We need to make sure it is truly reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand, and all that makes us unique. It will evolve over the coming years. But it is a great start to a new way of thinking about what counts as success.

How much should the Government provide for the wellbeing of New Zealanders?

Moreover, people voted for Labour because they knew that we cared about them, we were part of the community and they trusted us to look out for their families.

Is the Labour Party a part of a caring community? Should the Government be seen as a caring benefactor? To some extent that’s expected. The question is, how much?

Some people want the Government to intervene and to provide for them, they want the Government to help them and care for them.

Others want the Government to keep out of their lives as much as possible, to not interfere, to be a provider of health, education and services in the background only.

We can’t avoid the Government having a major effect on all of our lives, through tax gathering, provision of infrastructure and services. Those of us who survive to 65 get universal superannuation for the rest of our lives.

No one argues against having prisons for those who offend against the wellbeing of others.

Some people need more care than others, Some are genuinely disadvantaged through illness and disability. Their families and caregivers deserve some assistance.

How much should the Government care for the people? Of course we hope that politicians care, but how much care should they actually provide? We don’t pay enough tax to enable the Government to provide the care that people want.

To an extent it is a question of how much we want the Government to be a visible and engaged provider or care, or whether they making things available with a more background role.

Many of us have moved to a more satellite self sufficient society, but some want more provided.

Perhaps there are different cultural expectations. Do Maori (generally) expect the Government to be a more community engaged caregiver? They may think that there’s a natural progression from whanau to hapu to iwi to Government.

That’s quite different to how I see things. That doesn’t mean one is right or wrong, just that there are widely varying needs and expectations.

Should Government be the umbrella caregiver?

Koha for votes?

An interesting issue arose out of Duncan Garner’s inteview of Simon Lusk around the use of koha or a form of financial encouragement to vote.

Garner wrote: Lusk goes public on ‘koha to vote’

Many people have asked me does political operative Simon Lusk pay people, on behalf of clients, to get a certain voting outcome – as I said on TV3’s Story last night.

This is his response he just sent me:

Get out the Vote, especially in local government elections, can have a real impact on results because so few vote, and so few minorities vote.

Local government, on the other hand, is relatively easy to run a legal Get out the Vote campaign. Provided you are not paying for votes or offering anything in exchange for a vote, or treating, there are few rules around GOTV, and small turn out changes alter results.

The one group in New Zealand that has the ability to mobilise a big database of people quickly and effectively is Iwi. Thanks to the Treaty settlement process Iwi now have extensive databases of members who they can easily mobilise. At local government, iwi can quickly mobilise people to ensure their members Get out the Vote, and get their candidates elected. Assembling a team of 50 or 100 iwi members to Get out the Vote is straightforward, legal and effective if it is possible to raise some koha.’

(That is edited)

This raised some discussion in the Social Media thread today but it deserves it’s own post.

Jaspa:

From Lusk’s statement, I suspect something a bit more dodgy is at play here, and I suppose it’s the whole idea that has me gobsmacked.

Just thinking about it today has given me a strange possessive (? if that is the right word?) feeling about my right to vote and the fact that I would never sell it, for anything.

As the RNZ article says “But that statement didn’t answer key questions: How much was paid? By whom? And for what purpose? “

Pete Kane:

Three things here:

1. Were people ‘paid’ (if ‘koha’ for expenses still must be declared) to canvas/work in some way? (A problem if yes and not declared.)

2. Were people given a ‘koha’ to participate in the form of vote? (Big problem.) Were people given a ‘koha’ to participate in the form of vote – with implied (big, big problem) guidance or even clear ( HMP rock breaking problem) ‘guidance’ as to how said vote is ‘best’ cast?

3. Did Lusk admit to being hired by a third party to campaign for an election outcome (either Party Vote or TTT or both)? Was this declared under the EFA requirements?

Note: In the pragmatic sense – it’s really Mana/Internet vs Labour, National and NZ first here. Wouldn’t have a clue how the Greens might approach this (although Nicky vs Lusk?). So not easy – but I would think there are people, not only from Internet/Mana interests, but political and legal academia, just sneaking a little peep at all this.

Treaty settlement enables iwi housing development

An imminent treaty settlement has enabled a partnership of thirteen iwi to launch a low cost housing development in Auckland.

NZ Herald Editorial: Iwi housing plan shows what Treaty really means

The scheme, reported in the Herald yesterday, is a reminder on the eve of Waitangi Day that the spirit of the Treaty often moves in creative ways.

The 16ha site on the Manukau, formerly a farm next to the Weymouth children’s home, will contain 282 units, of which 127 will be sold on the open market and up to 99 will be tenanted on shared equity or rent-to-buy arrangements. The rest will be low rent tenancies, administered by several independent charities rather than Housing NZ.

The units will be built to several different designs, all double-storeyed and on much less land than the state houses of areas such as Otara and Glen Innes where permanent tenants, who regard the houses as their own, have been waging a long resistance to more intensive redevelopment.

In developments such as Waimahia – Weymouth’s Maori name – the abolition of permanent tenancy will have immediate effects. One of these effects may be to ensure that renters look to take advantage of the shared equity and rent-to-buy offers as soon as they can.

If it works to plan, there will be a constant turnover of rentals, enabling people in the most desperate need to be given adequate housing quickly, and encouraging them in turn to move to at least partial ownership as soon as they can.

The site is Auckland Council’s first designated “special housing area” for fast-track resource consents. Earthworks have started. The first units are expected to be built by August or September. It could be a model for affordable housing schemes elsewhere. On the eve of the Treaty commemoration, it is already a fine example of what it means.

Sounds like a worthwhile investment of a treaty settlement. It should benefit the iwi involved – property is usually a sound investment – and it will assist people into homes of their own.