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.

Iwi seats on Otago Regional Council

The Otago Regional Council has voted in favour of reserving committee seats for Ngāi Tahu. This has been referred to as “exciting” and also as “racist”.

I’m more concerned about “alarming” rates rises.

ODT on Monday (before the vote): Reaction mixed to ORC seats for iwi

The idea of non-elected iwi seats on an Otago Regional Council committee has drawn councillor responses from “racist” to “exciting”.

Cr Michael Laws has blasted the move as an “assault upon democracy”.

“It is so privileged, and so obviously racist, that it calls into question the fundamental principles of democracy in Otago.”

The decision would empower an “unelected minority”.

“It is a recommendation that embraces all the PC nonsense of our age but misrepresents both logic and law in advancing such racial privilege.”

Cr Bryan Scott said the principle of having iwi at the table was “exciting”.

“My personal view is we always need to strive to do better with iwi and this is a way of doing that.”

They would represent two seats out of 14 and all decisions would have to be ratified by the full council, he said.

“Ideally, they can add value and we can discuss things face to face. The outcomes will be better for our community.”

Stuff (after the vote): Otago Regional Council votes in favour of reserving committee seats for Ngāi Tahu

A controversial move to give local iwi two seats has passed, despite one Otago Regional councillor claiming it promotes “racial privilege”.

Councillors voted seven to three in favour of devoting two seats on the council’s policy committee to Ngāi Tahu, a move chairman Stephen Woodhead said was a “win-win”.

“They will look for people with [Resource Management Act] expertise and able to assist us around this governance table.”

Councillor Michael Laws, who represents the Dunstan constituency, criticised the council before Wednesday’s meeting for being undemocratic and advancing “racial privilege” by reserving the seats for iwi.

Deputy chairwoman Gretchen Robertson, who chairs the policy committee, said it was a beneficial move for the council.

“We make important decisions for our community in the space of land, air and water … How can we speak for iwi? We must hear first and face to face.”

Councillor Michael Deaker, who supported iwi representation, said bringing iwi around the table was “lawful, democratic and desirable”.

“We have had dozens of people, mostly North Islanders who probably don’t know where the Dunstan constituency is  … dog-whistled in and [they] have showered us with words like undemocratic, criminal, racist, ‘unethical left-leaning PC control freaks’ … it’s all quite stunning.

Councillor Graeme Bell, who voted against the recommendation, said his Dunstan constituency told him iwi were needed in the room, but should not have voting rights.

He called for Māori candidates to put their names forward in the upcoming local body election.

Cr Ella Lawton supported the motion, but said the process had been “terrible again”.

Lawton proposed a review of the 2003 memorandum of understanding with local iwi, which was adopted following Wednesday’s vote.

Laws said he was opposed to the representation proposal because there had been no consultation and there were financial implications.

“This isn’t some biosecurity emergency like wallabies – this is policy. We should have put out a draft plan and be consulting on it right now and getting public feedback but no, we aren’t going to do that.”

I’m ambivalent. I haven’t really thought much about it and what it might mean. I’m not aware of any public engagement on this.

We get to have our say at the local body elections later this year.

My biggest concern with the ORC is the rampant rate rises – Increase of 26.9% for ORC general rates

Otago Regional Council general rates will jump 26.9% and not be subject to formal public consultation.

That sounds terrible.

A cartoon on the iwi seats is bound to be controversial.

Dene is ex-political editor of the ODT.

‘Full and final’ foolery

There has been a lot of foolery expressed over the supposed ‘full and final’ Waitangi settlements made between the Crown and Ngai Tahu and Tainui.

Stuff stirs this up with Ngāi Tahu and Tainui receive $370 million in Treaty payment top-ups, with more to come

Ben Thomas points that ‘full and final’ included provisions for additional payments, so those payments are not on top of their agreements, they are a part of their agreements.

Helped by headlines many have been fooled by what ‘full and final’ means – which is false representation.

Ngai Tahu on naming mountains

Ngai Tahu want to have important South Island mountimes recognised by their Maori names. Radio NZ report:

Ngai Tahui seeks dual names for mountains

The national body which oversees geographical name changes says it is not uncommon for iwi to want to pair English titles with ancestral areas.

South Island iwi Ngai Tahu has asked the Crown to rename several mountains in the Aoraki-Mt Cook range to include ancestral Maori titles, but as dual English-Maori names.

Don Grant, chairman of the New Zealand Geographic Board, says the requests reflect ancestral names significant to local iwi.

Dr Grant agrees with Ngai Tahu that doing away with the English name in favour of a Maori alternative would be too confusing.

This is the Ngai Tahu way – getting what they want without excluding other histories and preferences. Inclusive progress, no fuss or confrontation. It works well, with respect all round.

Public Feedback Sought On Name Proposals In The South Island

The New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB) has today opened public consultation for three proposals, submitted by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, regarding the naming of three significant alpine features in the Aoraki / Mount Cook area of the South Island.

Seeking to change two existing names to dual names, and to assign a new name for a section of the main divide, the proposals were considered and accepted for public consultation by the NZGB at its most recent meeting on October 31.

“The NZGB has a statutory function to collect and encourage the use of original Māori names,” said NZGB Chair Dr Don Grant.

“The proposed original Māori names relate to fundamental creation stories that are part of oral tradition and are highly significant ancestral names to Ngāi Tahu, who are seeking to restore them to the appropriate geographic features.”

The proposals involve altering the names ‘Mount Cook Range’ to ‘Kirikirikatata / Mount Cook Range, ‘Tasman Glacier’ to ‘Haupapa / Tasman Glacier’, and assigning the name ‘Aroarokaehe Range’ to a currently unnamed section of the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.

“In terms of dual naming, Ngāi Tahu have acknowledged the existing English names by proposing that they be retained.  The NZGB has agreed to notify these proposals for three months, beginning in November 2012 and ending in mid-February 2013, to seek public submissions on whether people support or object to them.

“The NZGB will then consider all public submissions at its next meeting in early 2013, with final determinations to establish official names being made either by the NZGB or the Minister for Land Information New Zealand.”

To view the proposals, please visit

For further information about geographic naming and the New Zealand Geographic Board visit the LINZ website for information about place naming and the New Zealand Geographic Board.

Tahu Potiki compares Owen Glenn and Ngai Tahu

Tahu Potiki makes an interesting comparison betwen Owen Glenn…

I was staggered to learn of the $80 million donation made by Owen Glenn to assist in the battle against the social malady that is domestic violence in New Zealand.

He has already proven his generosity by donating to worthy causes and projects, but this surely stands out as the single most generous personal donation to a single community issue such as this in New Zealand’s history.

…and Ngai Tahu…

I could tell you for a fact that Ngai Tahu has spent more than $80m since settlement on bureaucracy, political manoeuvring, governance and public relations.

They have spent nothing like that on housing, health, welfare and domestic safety of their tribal members.

Potiki is challenged by some values…

Over the past 20 years I have been involved in several interesting and exciting discussions and developments amongst iwi planning for their futures in a post- settlement world.

In many, if not most, instances when the question of iwi investment in social issues that impact upon Maori arises the expectation is on the government to resolve the problems.

In theory I agree that the government has the primary responsibility to address these matters, but maybe social policy from an iwi perspective requires revisiting.

Serious comparison.

He also expresses admiration for Willie Apiata’s new choice of career in his Press column.