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.