Greens want to dump referendums so they can force separate Māori wards

Several local bodies have failed in their attempts to impose Māori wards on their constituencies, with voters initiating petitions forcing referendums that subsequently voted strongly against separate democratic privileges – see Māori wards and democracy.

Undeterred by determination through the current democratic process, Green co-leader Marama Davidson is promoting “a movement”  for  “Māori wards right across the country”.

NewstalkZB: Green Party not giving up on Maori wards

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is refusing to give up the fight to create separate Maori wards, after Whakatane and Palmerston North both voted against the wards in binding referendums.

Davidson says it’s wrong for the majority to be setting the rules for minorities.

“Passing my law, which would have removed that referendum step and which would leave the decision in the hands of the elected councillors, is what is sorely needed.”

She has a law to take a means of democratic decision making out of the hands of voters.

Last year: Greens introduce Bill to make local wards process fair

The Green Party has today entered a Member’s Bill into the ballot that would make local government representation more equitable by ensuring that the establishment of both Māori and general wards on district and regional councils follows the same legal process.

“I’m really excited to be launching my new Member’s Bill today, which will ensure that the process for establishing Māori wards at a local government level is equitable and fair, and honours our commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” said Green Party Māori development spokesperson Marama Davidson.

Green Farm: ‘All votes are equal…but some vote should be more equal than others’.

“This unfair double standard in our electoral law works to limit Māori representation at local government level throughout the country.

Māori currently have the same opportunities for representation as everyone else. Davidson wants them to have separated representation. Davidson is promoting one standard for Māori the is different for the standard for everyone else.

Why just Māori wards? Why not women’s wards, LBGT wards, immigrant group wards, and white male wards?

“Removing this discriminatory provision is the right thing to do.

With a more discriminatory, less democratic provision?

“The Green Party has a proud history of standing up to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This is a continuation of our work as the political leaders on advancing kaupapa Māori and honouring Te Tiriti,” Ms Davidson said.

By promoting separatist local body democracy. I’m not aware of Te Tiriti o Waitangi stipulating separate democratic rights. There are valid historical reasons for the establishment of the national Māori electorates, and there is no strong indications that voters want that changed – but there are strong indications in New Plymouth, Manawatu, Kaikoura and Whakatane that separate wards are not wanted.

Having lost out in the democratic process Davidson wants the rules changed so she can have what she wants. This is alarming from a party leader.

From the Green’s Open Government and Democracy Policy:


  • We have a proportional electoral system that is transparent and fair.

This refers to ‘a proportional electoral system’, not dual systems. Fair for all, or ‘more fair’ for some?

Key Principles

1. Key decisions on the shape of the nation’s electoral system belong to the people, not political parties.

And not councils. But Davidson wants this principle overturned so councils can ignore their constituents.

2. The votes of all electors are of equal weight in influencing election results.

Except Davidson wants added weight for a select minority.

6. The electoral system should encourage close links and accountability between individual MPs and their constituents or constituencies.

8. Active democratic processes require more than periodic elections and stronger mechanisms are needed for the ongoing engagement of informed citizens in the development and enactment of key national and local policies.

But Davidson wants to remove the right of local body voters to petition for referendums so they can have their say.

A. Changing the existing system

The Green Party will only consider supporting changes to the Electoral Act if:

1. The only effect of the change is to grant the right to vote to some group of citizens and permanent residents of Aotearoa New Zealand, who were previously ineligible to vote; or
2. The changes are adjustments to the existing electoral system that have been recommended by an independent commission, and that are consistent with our Key Principles.

Separate Māori wards are excluded by point 1. because Māori are already eligible to vote.

I’m not aware of any independent commission recommending Māori wards.

Māori wards are not consistent with Green Party Key Principles, but who needs to bother about principles when a party leader wants to override the current democratic systems?

Another Green democracy ‘vision’:

  • We are actively engaged in our democracy and are able to meaningfully participate in government decision-making.

That’s ok as an ideal, but you can’t make people actively engage in our democracy. Local body referendum turnouts were all close to 40%.

And Davidson wants to remove a petition/referendum means of meaningful participation because she disagrees with the democratic outcome.

Perhaps Davidson should try some meaningful participation and actively engage with Māori non-voters, and find out what would encourage them to engage and vote. That would be much better than trying to change the democratic rules when you don’t get the results you want.

It would be great if more Māori voted. It would also be great if more Māori  candidates stood, and if more Māori candidates were good enough to get voted on to local body governments.

B. Changing to a new system

The Green Party will consider supporting changing to a new electoral system only if:

1. The new electoral system is approved by a free and fair referendum of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand eligible to vote under the existing laws. The referendum should have the following characteristics:
a) The referendum process is determined by an independent commission not by members of parliament

Davidson wants to do the opposite.

Great to get more Māori  voting and standing and elected. But terrible for a party leader to try to change the rules to get what she wants.

Not only is Davidson promoting double democratic standards, she is promoting very different democratic standards to he party principles and policies.

Principles of immigration

: “From my column today. Is there anyone who disagrees with this par (about how an immigration debate should be conducted)?”

  1. Let the first principle be this: Anyone who is already here is as Kiwi as Richie McCaw.
  2. Let the second be this: those of us who are already here get to decide who else joins us. There is no moral obligation to accept immigration.
  3. Let us also accept that the 800,000 New Zealanders abroad are entitled to come home whenever they want.
  4. Presumably also, none of our political parties is proposing ending the right of access for Australians to live or work in New Zealand, or to cut refugee numbers from the 876 who arrived in the year to June.

There’s a few contentious aspects to that.

  1. This depends on how you define “here”. New Zealand citizens would be included. What about residents? Once a resident, always able to stay here? Temporary visitors and tourists surely aren’t included.
  2. “All of us here” deciding who else can come here sounds very vague and impractical. Hooton can’t mean that $4m+ people get to decide on any new immigrant.
  3. It should be a given New Zealand citizens anywhere in the world who are able to return should be allowed to.
  4. Having suggested that “all of us here” decide on anyone joining us it is odd to then suggest that because no political party has proposed anything of refugees then changing to more or less should not be up for discussion.

Conclusion – Hooton was trying to stir up discussion. He can’t have been serious or can’t seriously thought this through.

Garrett, intolerance and ACT

One of the things David Garrett is best known for is his successful championing of the Three Strikes legislation as an ACT MP.

I don’t know if he is still associated with the ACT Party but I presume his anti-Muslim (immigration and population proportion) views – see Garrett on 2% Muslims and immigration – have nothing to do with ACT.

Garrett’s wish to halt all immigration of Muslims and limit them to less than 2% of the New Zealand population appear to contrast significantly with ACT principles that include:

Our vision

  • A free society: free trade, free speech, and personal and religious freedom
  • A nation that values personal responsibility, tolerance, civility and compassion

ACT is committed to:

  • Unleash the creativity, energy and enthusiasm of New Zealanders by removing petty regulation…
  • Safe communities through effective policing, with rehabilitation for young offenders but uncompromising sentencing for repeat and violent offenders

Credit to Garrett for “uncompromising sentencing for repeat and violent offenders” .

Our History and Values

The ACT Party was founded upon those traditional classical liberal principles which are the basis of a free and prosperous community: the suite of fundamental freedoms which include free trade and free speech, limited government, the rule of law and secure property rights.

But that is not enough. We also need a strong engagement with the values of civic society, which include honesty, compassion, enterprise, community service, personal responsibility, tolerance and civility.

Many of the ACT principles seem to be absent from Garrett’s proposal to restict immigration and population numbers based on religious beliefs.

I personally don’t have religious beliefs but I oppose discrimination based on anyone’s religious beliefs. Much like ACT by the look of their principles.

Repeating thje first of ACT’s principles:

  • A free society: free trade, free speech, and personal and religious freedom


John Banks’ amendment – principles underpinning GCSB functions

An amendment initiated by John Banks adds human rights requirements plus democratic and political oversight to the GCSB Bill.

8CA Principles underpinning performance of Bureau’s functions

(1) In performing its functions under this Act, the Bureau acts—

(a) in accordance with New Zealand law and all human rights standards recognised by New Zealand law, except to the extent that they are, in relation to national security, modified by an enactment:
(b) in the discharge of its operational functions, independently and impartially:
(c) with integrity and professionalism:
(d) in a manner that facilitates effective democratic oversight.

(3) The Director must take all reasonable steps to ensure that—

(a) the activities of the Bureau are limited to those that are relevant to the discharge of its functions:
(b) the Bureau is kept free from any influence or consideration that is not relevant to its functions:
(c) the Bureau does not take any action for the purpose of furthering or harming the interests of any political party in New Zealand.

(4) The Director must consult regularly with the Leader of the Opposition for the purpose of keeping him or her informed about matters relating to the Bureau’s functions under sections 8A to 8C..

3 (c) and 4 provide for limits to the GCSB being used politically and provides for consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.