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Michael Coote

Local Government Commission promotes racial discrimination

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Auckland’s unfortunate political experiment in having an Independent Maori Statutory Board is being held up as a model for the rest of New Zealand’s fragmented local bodies considering amalgamation into unitary authorities.

Under the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009, the amalgamated city of Auckland wound up with a tripartite local authority structure comprised of an overarching elected governing council, 21 underlying local boards elected by their communities, and the racial gerrymander of the appointed Independent Maori Statutory Board.

The Board owes its existence to an expedient deal between prime minister John Key and former Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples when it became obvious separate Maori seats on the restructured Auckland Council were a non-starter.

Mr Key was then assiduously practising appeasement towards the Maori Party in order keep it within the tent of his shaky coalition government.

He has since learned the hard but predictable way through various kicks in the teeth in critical Parliamentary votes that wallowing in Maori politics can be a thankless task.

The principal qualification for belonging to the Key-Sharples affront to elective democracy the Independent Maori Statutory Board represents is that board members must be part-Maori, with claims to being either mana whenua (Auckland tribal) or mataawaka (non-Auckland tribal).

The nine-member Board has turned out to be a ratepayer-funded junket for mana whenua David Taipari, Glenn Wilcox, Josie Smith, Precious Clark, Kris MacDonald, Liane Ngamane and Karen Wilson and mataawaka Tony Kake and John Tamihere.

These exclusively privileged individuals are unique in being officially permitted to vote on Auckland Council subcommittees as of racial right without democratic franchise from the wider community of residents and ratepayers.

In 2011 Mr Wilcox notoriously asked the Auckland Council’s transport committee, in relation to a proposed rail tunnel between Britomart and Mt Eden, “What’s being done about the taniwha Horotiu who lives just outside here, and that tunnel will be going right through his rohe.”

Mr Tamihere has had many scrapes of his own, including having to go off air thanks to his widely reviled comments about the Roast Busters teenage sex scandal on RadioLIVE.

The politically misbegotten and historically anachronistic institution of the Independent Maori Statutory Board should be abolished.

Disturbingly, the Local Government Commission, a permanent commission of inquiry, is trying to dupe residents and ratepayers of other local authorities seeking amalgamation into having an Independent Maori Statutory Board lookalike of their very own.

For example, in its Draft Proposal for Reorganisation of Local Government in Northland, the Commission advocates another tripartite structure made up of a governing Northland council, a number of community boards, and a Maori board.

The Northland Maori board is supposed to have the following brief: “Assists and advises the council.  Promotes issues of cultural, economic, social and environmental significance.  A Maori advisory committee on resource management issues would also be established.”

But why stop there?

In its Draft Proposal for Reorganisation of Local Government in Hawke’s Bay, the Local Government Commission is pushing the same racially-divided tripartite structure.

Yet another Maori board is urged, charged with, “Assists and advises the council.  Promotes issues of cultural, economic, social and environmental significance.  A committee to make decisions on resource management and coastal environment plans would also be established.  Further changes may be made as part of the Treaty settlement process.”

Clearly the Local Government Commission is promoting a racist, Treaty-driven agenda.

This agenda seeks to set persons of part-Maori genetic descent above all other New Zealanders in exercising unchallengeable, anti-democratic hereditary powers through structural changes to local government.

In this regard, the Local Government Commission promotes racial discrimination and undermines longstanding foundations of elective democracy and legal equality between members of our society.

We should also beware when Mai Chen, billed in the New Zealand Herald as “a founding partner in Chen Palmer lawyers and adjunct professor at the Auckland University business school” emerges as propagandist for the Commission’s plans.

“The commission is even recommending something similar [for Northland] to the Independent Maori Statutory Board created by the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009,” gushes Ms Chen in the Herald.

“Maori apparently like this mechanism as the closest thing to co-governance in local government on offer.”

Some probably do like the idea of subverting local government via the Treaty partnership fraud, aiming to have Maori tribes dominating other New Zealanders through the discredited pattern of spurious co-sovereignty with the Crown.

The vast majority of New Zealanders would vote this race-based rort down if they got the chance, but the Local Government Commission, and lawyers like Ms Chen who benefit from Treaty-related work, are unlikely to assist them.

Ms Chen’s columns in the Herald can resemble self-promoting advertorials pitched at recruiting litigious Maori tribal clients.

Her published disclosures of interest could be more transparent.

We should not be misled by tendentious political opinion favouring Maori racial supremacy being represented as objective legal fact selflessly written in the cause of the public good