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WCC wants to keep all its wards, and add one more (a Māori ward)

News from Wellington City Council
Maintaining the current ward boundaries and increasing the total number of Councillors by one to 15 for future elections is being proposed for Wellington.

“After considering a number of options, Council voted to recommend that the current ward structure is kept allowing us to add the new Māori ward councillor with minimal changes to the current system,” says Mayor Andy Foster.

“Wellington has an ambitious work programme about to get underway with considerable engagement and discussion with residents. For that reason and because we are likely to review the boundaries again before 2025, the proposed option does not differ a lot from the structure we currently have.”

Wellington City Council is recommending there are 14 general ward Councillors elected from the current five wards, and one Māori ward elected by people on the Māori roll across the city, and the Mayor elected by the whole city. Under the proposal, the community board structure remains.

The proposal is part of Wellington’s representation review which considered governance arrangements for the city. The review included looking at community boards, whether Councillors should be elected by the whole city, and the boundaries, names, and Councillor numbers in wards.

A public consultation process on the initial proposal starts tomorrow (Saturday 4 September). The consultation document outlines the other options looked at.

The Local Electoral Act 2001 (the Act) requires councils to review its electoral arrangements at least every six years. Wellington City last reviewed its arrangements in 2018 but due to the decision by Council to establish a Māori ward earlier this year, another review is required before the 2022 local elections.

The outcome of this review will apply to the 2022 local elections. Council may conduct another representation review ahead of the 2025 election.

The proposed name for the new Māori ward is Te Whanganui-a-Tara Ward.

“The history of our city and the importance of Māori culture is shown by this name which derives from one of the earliest known names for Wellington Harbour back when Whatonga’s son Tara was sent down from the Mahia Peninsula by his father to explore southern lands for their people to settle. It literally means the great harbour of Tara,” says Mayor Foster.

The Representation Review Initial Proposal is open for public submissions from Saturday 4 September – Monday 4 October. The consultation document and further information can be found at www.letstalk.wellington.govt.nz

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50 comments:

  1. Claire1, 5. September 2021, 6:01

    Will any of these options make the WCC and councillors follow democratic process for the rights of majority submissions? Will any of them make councillors LESS political pawns and more true representatives of the people?

     
  2. D'Esterre, 5. September 2021, 13:57

    Claire1: “Will any of them make councillors LESS political pawns and more true representatives of the people?” Of course not. Democracy here, such as it was, can be seen only in the rear-view mirror.

     
  3. John Rankin, 5. September 2021, 20:36

    What does it mean to say that we want councillors who are “true representatives of the people”? According to Edmund Burke, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” He goes on:

    To deliver an opinion is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to consider. But authoritative instructions, mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest convictions of his judgment and conscience — these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our Constitution.

    Parliament [or Council] is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; Parliament [or Council] is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest — that of the whole — where not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.

    New Zealand is of course a bit different. We are not “one nation”; rather we have the First Nations indigenous peoples (tangata whenua) and the settler peoples (tangata tiriti). Symbolically, using this term elevates First Nations to the status of “first among equals” alongside the English (symbolised by the Crown) as founding nations of modern New Zealand.

    In this light, adding Te Whanganui-a-Tara Ward is a good day for local democracy and I celebrate it. In making this decision, our councillors have exercised the judgement for which we elected them. Well done.

     
  4. Harold Rodd, 6. September 2021, 6:02

    WCC, why not admit that three of the five wards have numbers which are outside the statutory rules? Suddenly having a Maori Ward has caught you off-guard.

     
  5. Claire1, 6. September 2021, 8:44

    John: I am not talking about the new Maori ward that is fine in my book, but the behaviour and political activity of councillors over a number of issues. Will any new structure make them better reps of the people?

     
  6. TrevorH, 6. September 2021, 8:54

    John Rankin: who are these “settler peoples” of whom you speak? I see only New Zealanders (or Aotearoans if you prefer) all of whom enjoy equality before the law.

     
  7. Ian Shearer, 6. September 2021, 10:44

    Claire, it is our responsibility to select (vote for) people who we think will do a good job in governing our city in our collective interests. It is clear that Māori views and input to city governance decisions has been poor, and the decision to change this is welcome. However I do not want our councillors to be ‘representatives’ of any particular area or sector. I want them all, including any Māori Ward councillor, to make governance decisions that they believe are of benefit to all city residents, and in many cases, everyone in our region and our country.

    I do not want our councillors to be ‘representatives’: we do not need a land-owner councillor, a farmer councillor, an ‘unemployed’ councillor, a business councillor, an arts councillor, a more-roads councillor, a public transport councillor, or a Western Ward councillor. I also do not want a ‘political puppet’ councillor.

    It is my responsibility to vote for councillors who hold a vision for our city that aligns with mine, and also have the abilities to make that vision happen. Membership or alignment with the philosophies expressed by a particular political party may guide me to help decide whether candidate councillors hold views that are likely to align with my vision for the city. BUT I still expect them to use their judgement and values to make governance decisions that they believe are in the interests of us as a collective people.

     
  8. Claire, 6. September 2021, 11:11

    Ian: are you happy with recent decisions (DSP, Shelly Bay) going against the majority of Wellingtonians? Both of these were poor decisions.

     
  9. D'Esterre, 6. September 2021, 12:14

    John Rankin: “We are not “one nation”…. Yes. We are. NZ cannot function except as a modern representative democracy. The establishment of Maori (or any other ethnicity) seats – along with Maori reps on local government committees – takes us away from representative democracy and towards ethno-nationalism. Please don’t call me racist for pointing this out. That’s a tiresome and inaccurate characterisation.

    Ian Shearer: “I do not want our councillors to be ‘representatives’…” Yes. We do. But we want them to represent the community in all its variety. Which of course may entail some of the people you adduce.

    “It is my responsibility to vote for councillors who hold a vision for our city that aligns with mine…” Or who are prepared to follow what the majority of ratepayers have indicated in surveys that they want. That’s what we thought we’d voted for at the last election. But as Claire has pointed out, that isn’t what we got.

     
  10. John Rankin, 6. September 2021, 12:51

    Claire asks whether “any new structure make them better reps of the people”. The best answer I have is that the elected councillors reflect the genuine differences among us who elected them. Our hope as electors is that those we elect will figure out how to find common ground for the future good of our city home. I expect councillors to act like a board of directors, not like a government and opposition. Mostly, I think that’s what they try to do, with varying degrees of success. The decision on adding Te Whanganui-a-Tara Ward is an example of good local governance, in my view. I want councillors to exercise their informed judgement on my behalf. I don’t want them to second guess what some hypothetical majority of voters think, which means I will sometimes disagree with their decisions.

    TrevorH: why do you suggest framing Aotearoa New Zealand as a multi-national democratic state (with the indigenous people as First Nations) is incompatible with equality before the law? As someone not born here, I think I probably am a settler. It is the Treaty of Waitangi that gives people like me and other tangata tiriti the right to be here. Without the treaty, those not of First Nations descent would be invaders and colonisers, not settlers and citizens.

     
  11. Claire1, 6. September 2021, 13:06

    John: these were not hypothetical majorities, they were submissions to the council, with councillors going against the majority.

     
  12. Peter Kerr, 6. September 2021, 14:12

    Claire, you’re assuming submissions should constitute a binding responsibility on the body to which they are made. They don’t and they never have. The council’s responsibility rests with making decisions that they consider best for the common good of all – and this may not necessarily be arrived at from the opinions of a majority of submitters. To submit is to humbly request a consideration of one’s particular viewpoint. It does not imply an assumption that it will be adopted, even if more than half of them support a similar view.

     
  13. Mike Mellor, 6. September 2021, 14:57

    Claire1: councillors may go against the majority of submissions – consultations are not referendums, and a majority of submissions is by no means the same as a majority of Wellingtonians.

    Far, far more people vote at local elections than make submissions, so that process is, as intended, the real seat of local democracy.

    D’Esterre: “Or who are prepared to follow what the majority of ratepayers have indicated in surveys that they want” – democracy is not limited to those who pay rates, nor are surveys part of the democratic process. Public opinion on individual matters is of course important, but councillors are elected to look at the whole picture, not one issue at a time.

     
  14. D'Esterre, 6. September 2021, 15:02

    John Rankin: “…framing Aotearoa New Zealand as a multi-national democratic state…..is incompatible with equality before the law?” Because it is. Reserving electorates for a particular ethnicity/racial group is discrimination. Democracy ought to be colour-blind and open to all comers. Absent those factors, democracy is progressively eroded.

    “…I think I probably am a settler.” You’d have been an immigrant. It appears that you’re now a citizen. You certainly aren’t and weren’t a settler. “It is the Treaty of Waitangi that gives people like me and other tangata tiriti the right to be here.” No. It’s Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter/Letters Patent with its Royal Seal attached, which separated New Zealand from New South Wales on the 16th November 1840. Then the 1852 New Zealand Constitution Act (NZCA), which created New Zealand’s first Parliament. These are the instruments by which NZ became self-governing, and allowed immigrants to become citizens. The Treaty has no relevance.

     
  15. Claire1, 6. September 2021, 15:47

    Mike: Then I guess it is very important that councillors represent themselves honestly at elections. I guess any good and intelligent and experienced candidate next time will be forensically analysed by the voters.

     
  16. TrevorH, 6. September 2021, 17:59

    As far as I’m concerned I am “indigenous” as I “naturally occurred” in this country some years ago. In the maternity ward of Waikato Public Hospital to be precise.

     
  17. Coke Float, 6. September 2021, 18:10

    Interesting views regarding submissions. I’ll remember them next time someone tries to claim the majority of submissions want cycleways the length and breadth of Wellington.

     
  18. John Rankin, 6. September 2021, 19:03

    D’Esterre: I would have thought that without the Treaty of Waitangi, the two items mentioned would have been acts of colonial expropriation, with no regard to the rights and wishes of the indigenous peoples of the land. Was it not the Treaty that gave the indigenous peoples of New Zealand the same rights as British subjects, and they in return granted the British Crown authority to act on their behalf in certain areas?

    D’Esterre chooses to view NZ’s history through the lens of race; I choose to view it through the lens of nationhood. Both are social constructs, but in my experience viewing the world through the lens of race leads to racism. My wife is entitled to an Irish passport, a right she inherited from her forebears. Presumably, d’Esterre would see this as a race-based right, whereas I see it as an expression of Irish nationhood. Hence, I see Māori wards and seats positively as a recognition that NZ is a multi-national state.

    TrevorH may choose to see himself as indigenous, but he is not AFAIK a member of one or more of the First Nations of Aotearoa New Zealand.

     
  19. D'Esterre, 6. September 2021, 19:05

    Mike Mellor: S93A of the Local Government Act – and following sections – deal with the obligations on local authorities to consult with ratepayers on the long term plan. So surveys are indeed part of the democratic process. Were that not the case, how would Councils know what ratepayers wanted? It’s up to said ratepayers to respond to consultation, and give their views. Councillors are elected to govern in the interests of their ratepayers, not to go galloping off on hobbyhorses of their own devising.

     
  20. Claire1, 6. September 2021, 19:53

    We need a new system if submissions are a waste of time and ignored. If you treat your ratepayers with disdain they will vote you out.

     
  21. Ray Chung, 6. September 2021, 20:06

    I was just reading the WCC Code of Conduct for Elected Members that states under the heading, Public Interest: “Members should serve only the interests of the city as a whole and should never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage over any one person, or group of persons.” So why do we get focus groups getting significant amounts of ratepayer funds to achieve their objectives against the wishes of the majority of Wellingtonians?
    In preparing to make a submission to council about these wards, I noted that the Local Electoral Act 2001, section 19V (2) states “the population that each member in a general ward represents must be within the range of 14,771 +/-10% (13,293-16,248), unless particular community of interest considerations justify otherwise.”
    The proposed Wellington wards and their constituencies are:
    Northern Ward – 48,800 with population per member 16,267
    Onslow-Western Ward – 43,300 with population per member 14,433
    Lambton Ward – 44,100 with population per member 14,700
    Eastern Ward – 37,500 with population per member 12,500
    Southern Ward – 33,100 with population per member 16,550
    Maori Ward – 9,410 with population per member 9,410

    The proposed Maori Ward is 63% below the median highlighted by the Electoral Act, so how is this possible to comply with the Act requiring all wards to be +/-10%?

    Like many people, I’d like to see a new council elected next year that strives to achieve the noble objective of being there for all Wellingtonians and not just certain focus groups. Only then will we have a council that’s unified in serving the interests of the city as a whole.

     
  22. Harold Rodd, 7. September 2021, 7:06

    Ray, councillors did not know the ramifications of having a ward review when they rushed into having a Maori Ward, which is what forced them to take this on. They have now gone for a system which they reckon gives them the best chances of being re-elected.

     
  23. Claire1, 7. September 2021, 11:06

    Harold: yes I agree it’s self interest in choosing this option. Otherwise some of the third councillors would be dropped off. It should be led by the executive to bring some balance to the issue, councillors should not have a vote. It should be what’s best for the city not the councillors.

     
  24. D'Esterre, 7. September 2021, 11:35

    John Rankin: “…without the Treaty of Waitangi, the two items mentioned would have been acts of colonial expropriation…” They would not. They had nothing to do with colonialism: rather, they served to establish self-government here. NZ was a colony for a very short time only. Regarding the Treaty: it’s important not to give it more weight now than it had when it was signed. The context in which it was signed, and why, are both of moment. Archives New Zealand has the historical documents. It’s advisable to avoid presentism, and to look past the disastrous Treaty revisionism of the 1980s.

    “D’Esterre chooses to view NZ’s history through the lens of race…” Please do not attribute to me views that I don’t hold.

    “My wife is entitled to an Irish passport…” Being of Irish descent, so am I, through the patrial laws of the former Great Britain. And also – by extension – an EU passport. The Republic of Ireland is one country, with a mix of people from all over the world: it doesn’t have a separate electoral system for Celts.

    “…I see Māori wards and seats positively as a recognition that NZ is a multi-national state.” It isn’t. It’s one nation, with a mix of peoples, including Maori. There have been people here from all over the world since the first European arrivals. The ancestry of many of us – including Maori – can attest to this. A separate electoral system for Maori is discrimination: it’s undemocratic.

     
  25. D'Esterre, 7. September 2021, 12:18

    Ray, those figures are evidence that WCC – staff and councillors – aren’t cognisant of the legislation under which they must operate.

     
  26. Groggy, 7. September 2021, 14:03

    Coke Float, the cycle lobby are good at organising their relatively small numbers to submit in support of any cycle related proposal, while the vast majority who don’t care don’t bother and then end up having to live with the outcomes. Consultation results are always skewed towards those who have skin in the game.

     
  27. Ray Chung, 7. September 2021, 19:11

    I was chatting with one of my neighbours who happens to be Maori and I asked what he thought of the ward reshuffle and does he think this will improve his representation and forward his views. He said “I wish you would stop treating me as someone who’s too useless to manage my life and business without ‘special favours’ and treating me as someone different. Apart from skin colour, we’re exactly the same. People who think they know better than us, constantly bring out the Treaty of Waitangi – from my perspective, all the treaty said was that we’re going to be treated equally but in fact we’re not! We’re being given advantages because this government and council think we need special treatment but my business is very successful apart from having to close under lockdown!” He went on to talk about the Maori ward and said: “Maori already have two representatives in council, namely Jill Day and Tamatha Paul, but what have they done for us? Getting a Maori ward won’t make an iota of difference.”

    D’Esterre, I agree that we are “one nation.”

     
  28. Ray Chung, 7. September 2021, 19:26

    Jennie Condie, Rebecca Matthews and Teri O’Neill voted for “Councillors-at-large.” The problem with “Councillors-at-large” though is that it favours the large political parties with lots of volunteers and money, as it’s very difficult for an Independent candidate to campaign across the whole city like a mayoral candidate needs to do.

     
  29. Mike Mellor, 7. September 2021, 20:56

    D’Esterre:

    1. councils certainly have an obligation to consult, and the results are public input to decision making, while elections (and binding referendums) are what democracy is about – the public making real decisions. And councils are elected to govern in the interests of the whole population, not just ratepayers.

    2. “those figures are evidence that WCC – staff and councillors – aren’t cognisant of the legislation under which they must operate” – WCC includes those figures and the Local Electoral Act requirements in its documentation, including in the relevant public notice, so they clearly are cognisant.

    3. “Being of Irish descent, so am I [entitled to an Irish passport], through the patrial laws of the former Great Britain” – good on you, but since the southern part of the island of Ireland has been independent for 100-odd years, that’s everything to do with Irish law and nothing to do with British law (and there’s no “former Great Britain”, GB still being the same as when it was created in 1707).

     
  30. Concerned Wellingtonian, 8. September 2021, 7:23

    Mike, I agree that WCC “clearly are cognisant” of the legislation. This is why their Public Notice fails to mention the variance of over 15% for one of the proposed constituencies when compared to a maximum of 10% required by the law. Why draw attention to the discrepancy when the ward has three councillors who are all keen to get back?

     
  31. Claire1, 8. September 2021, 11:22

    Concerned Wellingtonian: would that be the Eastern Ward … the ones who voted for a retrograde DSP?

     
  32. John Rankin, 8. September 2021, 12:10

    Ray Chung’s neighbour is free to exercise his preference by opting to appear on the general electoral roll. Equally, those who wish to vote in a Maori ward are now free to exercise their preference by opting to appear on the Maori roll. What Ray Chung’s neighbour doesn’t get to do is impose his opinion on those who have a different view.

    The One Nation ideology sounds an awful lot like the ideology the Chinese Communist Party uses to justify the way it denies rights to the peoples of Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and increasingly Taiwan. Not company I would wish to keep.

     
  33. JAB, 8. September 2021, 22:27

    Like Ray C I don’t favour “at large councillors” for the reasons he gives. I would also like to see the mayoral election dropped and for it to be replaced by the councillors electing a leader. Means the position cannot be bought by large donations and would trim the possibility of expensive mischief making. I also feel that this would reinforce to council officers that ‘the agenda’ is the one agreed upon by the whole council, not one promoted by a mayor or various factions.

     
  34. D'Esterre, 8. September 2021, 23:21

    Mike Mellor: “…the island of Ireland has been independent for 100-odd years, that’s everything to do with Irish law…” My entitlement derives from long before Ireland became independent: thus the patrial laws of the former GB, while Ireland was still a part of it. My extended family calls it the UK: nobody now uses the term GB. It’s not what it was before Ireland’s independence.

    Concerned Wellingtonian: “…their Public Notice fails to mention the variance of over 15% for one of the proposed constituencies…” I assume you’re suggesting that this is deliberate on the part of WCC. This may well be correct, though I’d concluded that WCC wasn’t cognisant in the sense of not actually understanding the legislation.

    John Rankin: it’s inescapable that Maori seats are discrimination. It’s not possible to appeal to anything in our history which would justify their existence.

     
  35. D'Esterre, 9. September 2021, 9:20

    JAB: like you and Ray, I’m opposed to “at large” councillors, and for the same reasons.
    “…councillors electing a leader.” There’s merit in this idea, and for the reasons you adduce. After all, we don’t directly elect a Prime Minister.

     
  36. Helene Ritchie, 9. September 2021, 11:08

    Regional Councillors elect their chair. My experience as a former regional councillor is that as a result it tends to operate as a governance entity much better because of this. In other words, the chair generally has to strive to achieve some kind of consensus. While elected by the electorate to become a councillor, s/he is predominantly responsible to the council to retain the position of chair. This usually makes for a more congenial political environment. However, it is very unlikely that changing the way mayors are elected is a priority of Government for legislative change right now!

     
  37. John Rankin, 9. September 2021, 11:37

    Helene, with 14 general ward Councillors elected from the current five wards, and one Māori ward, there will be 15 councillors plus the mayor. If the mayor chooses to act as the chair of a governance entity, there will always be a majority of at least 1 vote (at least 8 to 7). I wonder if simply having an odd number of councillors, plus the mayor as (non-voting) chair, might be enough of a change to achieve the result you describe.

     
  38. Ray Chung, 9. September 2021, 13:45

    John Rankin: we didn’t discuss what electoral roll he’s on. The point he was making was that he wants to be like everyone else and be treated equally without special consideration for his race. I also never asked him who he voted for.

    Your interpretation of “One Nation” is certainly different to mine. I wouldn’t want to liken anything to the Chinese totalitarian regime or their policies either, so we’re of a like mind there. I’ll rephrase and just say that I believe that everyone in New Zealand should be treated equally, regardless of race, religion or creed.

     
  39. John Rankin, 9. September 2021, 16:09

    Ray Chung: yes and if your neighbour chooses the general electoral roll, his voting options will be the same as yours. Someone choosing to vote in the Māori ward gets to express their preference in the way they choose, without affecting you or your neighbour in any way. Nationally, of course, the existence of Māori seats makes no difference to the make-up of parliament, as we have a proportional system.

    As I said before, “race” is a social construct and in my view an unhelpful (and usually divisive) way to look at the world. In the US and Canada, the indigenous peoples are generally recognised as nations (as in First Nations, although not all North American indigenous peoples are First nations, there are also the Inuit and Métis nations). Here, we translate the Māori word ‘iwi’ as ‘tribe’, but an equally valid translation would be ‘nation’ if we so choose.

    There are important differences between equality and equity. To use a vivid overseas example, if I am a Scottish voter I get to vote for an MP in Westminster and a member in the Scottish Assembly. If I am an English voter, I only get to vote for an MP in Westminster; there is no English Assembly. This is clearly unequal. Whether it is inequitable depends on whether or not you think there ought to be an English Assembly (some in England do, most don’t).

    Under New Zealand’s system, Māori are entitled to a range of indigenous rights. Specifically, “All Indigenous peoples are entitled to self-determination (to choose their political status and the way they want to develop) and the protection of their language, culture, heritage, and relationship to the environment.” One of the ways we give effect to this right is by letting Māori choose whether to appear on the general or Māori electoral roll. Depending on how Māori choose to exercise this right, over time the Māori roll will either grow or shrink.

    See the difference between equality and equity.

     
  40. JAB, 9. September 2021, 23:48

    Do we need legislative change to dump having a directly elected mayor? It would keep the council at an uneven number. If we went for the “at large for all,” then a candidate would have to cover over 3 times the number of voters in a general election. For the Maori roll, voters on it go from having a say in electing 2-3 ward councillors down to only 1 councillor. Would it be possible for a voter on the Maori roll to rank a Maori list – 1 choice – and then also rank a ward list but have only 2 out of 3 choices counted rather than all 3? (if in say the Lambton ward). Not sure what it would do to proportionality or how it would be counted with STV voting?

     
  41. Mike Mellor, 10. September 2021, 12:17

    John Rankin: excellent summary, particularly the essential and under-appreciated difference between equity and equality, and the internationally accepted existence of indigenous rights.

    D’Esterre: your entitlement to an Irish passport bears as much relationship to British law as entitlement to an NZ passport does – zero. (The criteria for Irish citizenship can easily be checked at https://www.dfa.ie/citizenship/born-abroad/). There is nothing in British law that has any relevance to the passport policies of other sovereign states (former colonies or not), nor vice versa.

    Ireland has never been part of GB, which is basically the island that contains England, Scotland and Wales. The UK is different, being a political grouping that up to a century ago included the whole of the island of Ireland but now just Northern Ireland.

    As for nobody now using the term GB, I wouldn’t call the entire British Olympic and Paralympic teams, most recently in Tokyo, and their millions of supporters nobodies!

     
  42. TrevorH, 10. September 2021, 17:11

    Mike Mellor: while many countries pay lip service to the concept of “indigenous peoples” as promoted by the UN in its non-binding Declaration, few recognize it in their governance frameworks. And yet peoples who might lay claim to being “indigenous” exist on every continent except Antarctica. Their origins and circumstances vary enormously, from the Sami of Scandinavia to the Adivasi of India to the Aboriginal Australians. The UN Declaration arose primarily from concerns around the treatment of communities in the Amazon region of South America. Just how useful it is to generalize from their circumstances or those of any other groups is arguable, a point implicitly acknowledged by New Zealand when it signed the Declaration a decade ago and made clear that the framework provided by the Treaty of Waitangi guided its own national approach.

     
  43. Ray Chung, 10. September 2021, 20:42

    John Rankin: I agree that race is an unhelpful way of describing a group and often consider that it encourages division amongst communities. Equality and equity. This is a contentious debate. I am absolutely a believer and advocate for equality, that is, everyone is treated the same and we all follow the same laws. How the government legislates for equity is more difficult without infringing the equality requirement. I tend to think that equity can be effected with education. But equality must come first.

     
  44. D'Esterre, 11. September 2021, 7:59

    John Rankin: it doesn’t matter what the UN says. Nor is the Treaty of moment, even were it to contain all the principles adduced by those pushing for change. No matter how virtuous the intent behind the creation of Maori wards along with Maori representation on Council committees, it isn’t possible to do this sort of thing and still be a representative democracy.
    JAB, your proposal would need legislative change, it’s worth consideration. Even agitation for that change on the part of ratepayers?

     
  45. John Rankin, 11. September 2021, 14:27

    I’m not sure that TrevorH’s summary is sufficiently complete. For example, if there is a dispute about the meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi, under international law the indigenous language text takes precedence over the English language version. Governments can choose to ignore their obligations under international law, as the government of the Peoples Republic of China ignores international legal rulings over its claims to the South China Sea. Probably not company we wish to keep.

    I am struggling to understand what d’Esterre means when he says Māori wards are incompatible with representative democracy. Maybe what he means is that he believes a majority of voters are against our having a Māori electoral roll, therefore that is what our elected representatives should enact. If so, this would make New Zealand a direct democracy, not a representative democracy. In representative democracy, a representative’s duty is to use their own judgment in the exercise of their powers, even if their views are not reflective of those of a majority of voters. That Wellington has a Māori ward is representative democracy in action.

     
  46. D'Esterre, 11. September 2021, 15:31

    Ray Chung: “I am absolutely a believer and advocate for equality, that is, everyone is treated the same and we all follow the same laws.” My view as well. If our democracy is colour-blind and open to all-comers, and the rule of law applies equally to everyone, that is our best hope.

    TrevorH: “…concerns around the treatment of communities in the Amazon region of South America.” Yes indeed. It’s unfortunate that any NZ government would take its constitutional cue from that situation.

     
  47. D'Esterre, 11. September 2021, 18:47

    John Rankin: “Maybe what he means is that he believes a majority of voters are against our having a Māori electoral roll…” I don’t know what the majority of voters think. Nor, I suspect, does anybody else. I’ve noticed that the Left tends to characterise dissenting views as pernicious, when that isn’t necessarily so. It certainly isn’t in my case: I and others can disagree with you, without being card-carrying members of the KKK, you know.

    It is to the great embarrassment of the old-style Left, that we campaigned against apartheid in South Africa, and discriminatory electoral systems elsewhere, without a clear-eyed look at our own electoral system. My objection is constitutional. An electoral system which reserves seats for people on the basis of their ethnicity is undemocratic. If such systems are undemocratic elsewhere in the world, then ours certainly is.

     
  48. Claire1, 11. September 2021, 18:55

    D’esterre, Ray: it would be indeed great if everyone was treated equally. It is naive to think we are. People step up to see what can be done to bring in some equity: i.e. NGOs The Govt, food banks. It easy to see if you look.

     
  49. Ray Chung, 11. September 2021, 22:51

    Claire, I agree with you on most things but can we look at the example of Singapore. There are so many different races there who are treated equally and the government goes to great pains to ensure this is so. I don’t believe that there is equality in our laws at all. John Rankin: I disagree that we have representative democracy in the WCC if what you mean is that there should be representation according to the number of people of different ethnicities. Where then are the representatives for the other ethnicities while there are already two Maori councillors; having another one from the Maori ward will make it three out of 15 councillors, 20% of the council.

     
  50. Wellington.Scoop, 12. September 2021, 8:34

    Comments are now closed as our system has reached the maximum that it can handle.