Pacific community split over super city

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Calls to include mandatory Pacific seats on the proposed Auckland super city have received mixed reactions.

The Royal Commission's recommendation to have allocated seats for three Maori representatives in the 23-seat council has resulted in some - particularly the Pacific Island community - calling for the same treatment.

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio said there was much discussion within the wider Pacific Island community - especially in Manukau City - about the need to have a fair representation, given the city had the largest Pacific population in the country.

Mr Sio said it was important to acknowledge the changing face of not only Auckland but New Zealand.

"There's no doubt that there is a browning of New Zealand society - we've got the youngest population and the largest Pacific population in the world here," he said.

"You've got to acknowledge that."

Mr Sio said he was fully supportive of the allocated Maori seats, because the entitlement was outlined in the Treaty of Waitangi.

But Otara councillor Arthur Anae said he did not support the call for specifically Pacific seats, saying it would be unfair for other cultures.

"Take Manukau City for example. We - the Pacific community - are just one of 186 cultures. We don't have the right to be jumping up and down, asking for handout seats."

Mr Anae said the important issues were to get Pacific people to put their hands up to be councillors and to get the community to vote.

"If we want to have our issues and voices heard, we have to get out there and vote for our people, so that we are represented - voting for them, not because of allocated seats."

The commissioner's report includes recommendations to have a Pacific advisory panel and an ethnic advisory panel, to help the greater council with specific Pacific issues.

Executive officer Sailauama Cheryl Talamaivao for the Waitakere Pacific Board, a body that advises Waitakere City Council, said the priority was maintaining the board: "What we have to make sure is that that board doesn't disappear. Because if that happens, then we're going to have a problem."

- NZ Herald

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