Brown pledges talks on dedicated Maori seats

By Audrey Young

A kaumatua (left) welcomes Mayor Len Brown to Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua for the meeting of the Iwi Leadership Group. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A kaumatua (left) welcomes Mayor Len Brown to Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua for the meeting of the Iwi Leadership Group. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has given an undertaking to the influential Iwi Leadership Group to talk to the new Auckland Council about dedicated Maori seats on the council. But no quick decisions are expected to be taken.

Mr Brown attended the group's hui at Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua on Saturday as a guest.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples asked Mr Brown to attend the hui with him.

The request to discuss Maori representation on the council was put by Tainui leader Tukoroirangi Morgan and Ngati Whatua leader Naida Glavish.

Mr Morgan said last night that Mr Brown gave an undertaking to discuss the issue with his new council which has only just been sworn in.

He had said it was a serious issue and it would be discussed comprehensively.

Dr Sharples told the Herald last night that Mr Brown had given an undertaking to take the issue to his new council and go through a process and it could take a year or so.

"It is something he has got to handle very carefully and not be a bully or appear to be a bully or it be a non-negotiable thing.

"We are aware he is anxious to build his council and the last thing he wants is to create a rift over one issue right at this time - and we don't want him to either."

Dr Sharples said it would be a gradual process "and we are quite happy to settle for that".

The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommended a 23-member Auckland Council including three Maori seats: two elected by those on the Maori roll and another appointed by a Mana Whenua Forum, the members of which would be appointed by mana whenua from the district of the Auckland Council.

The Government rejected that proposition, which had been supported by Mr Brown, and opted for 20 councillors.

Mr Morgan and Dr Sharples said there was no support for getting the issue tested through a referendum.

Mr Morgan said the majority would always rule under a referendum and "history has told us that unless there is a major slice of goodwill, you are never going to get there".

Mr Morgan said that at the hui he had talked about the co-governance model of the Waikato River settlement - "equal say by both the Crown and iwi and I don't see this as any different actually".

"This was a decision made by the Crown itself to share power in equal terms.

"What I would like to do is have the two Maori seats as part of the Super City Council but on the same basis that we have co-governance of the river.

"We have equal says. It's a reflection of the maturity of the relationship between the Crown and iwi and I see that no differently to the Auckland Super City Council."

The new Auckland Council was required under law to set up a Maori consultative committee and it has its first meeting today.

- NZ Herald

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