Kelvin Davis - spot the Maori

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Dover Samuels, addressing Te Oneroa-a-Tohe Board earlier this year after being elected vice-chairman, lost that job too on Saturday.
Dover Samuels, addressing Te Oneroa-a-Tohe Board earlier this year after being elected vice-chairman, lost that job too on Saturday.

Maori were the big losers in Saturday's local government elections, according to Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis.

Just one Maori had been elected across Northland's four councils, he said, while Northland Regional councillor Dover Samuels, who had worked hard to give Maori a voice in council decision-making, had lost his seat.

There were two possible solutions to the lack of Maori representation, Mr Davis said.

One was that Maori should "get off their arses and vote," but it was too easy to lay the blame at their feet.

Many Maori did not vote because they felt disenfranchised and unrepresented. The other solution was to introduce dedicated Maori seats.

Mr Samuels, a former Maori Affairs Minister, remains opposed to Maori seats. He believed councillors should be elected solely according to merit, although many of the people who had called him since Saturday thought differently.

"People are saying it may be time to look at separate Maori constituencies, not just on the regional council but throughout Northland," he said.

Mr Samuels suspected that he had lost support among conservative voters for setting up, and chairing, the NRC's Maori Advisory Committee, made up of 30 hapu representatives and three councillors. Now, however, there would be no Maori councillor to sit on the committee.

Mr Davis paid tribute to Mr Samuels for setting up the committee and getting regional councillors to visit marae for the first time. Those meetings were well attended, he said.

He was concerned the committee would fall into abeyance without Mr Samuels.

- Northland Age

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