Banks plans new Maori liaison role if he's mayor

By Yvonne Tahana

John Banks. Photo / Herald on Sunday
John Banks. Photo / Herald on Sunday

John Banks has said he would include a Maori liaison in his mayoral office if he was elected to run the Super City.

But the proposal has been described as a "potential dancing monkey".

The new structure provides only for a Maori advisory board. However, under Mr Banks' plan, an adviser would have a voice in the budget process, which sets the council direction.

"Even if two Maori were elected separately it wouldn't guarantee them influence in policy making - they could be easily sidelined," Mr Banks said.

"When you've got someone working in your office, they can't be sidelined.

"They will be inside the loop as opposed to outside offering advice."

Iwi would recommend a person before they were confirmed and appointed. Mr Banks accepted that part of the process would likely be criticised as undemocratic.

It would be a tough job and might come with a person who challenged him. "I want the advice to come openly and honestly as I do with everyone who is making a difference," he said.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, whose electorate cuts through the Super City boundary, said he had discussions with Mr Banks' team about the idea.

He said much would depend on the powers the person had and their skills.

"There's a possibility that this person will have huge influence, but at the same time there's the potential for this person to be nothing more than a dancing monkey."

Ngati Whatua o Orakei spokesman Ngarimu Blair cautiously backed the plan.

"The [board] sits a very long way from where decisions are going to be made and therefore anything that gets Maori closer to the number-one field has got to be a good thing."

- NZ Herald

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