Ratepayers to pay $1.8m for Maori board

By Bernard Orsman

Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Dean Purcell
Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Dean Purcell

Auckland ratepayers will pay $1.76 million for the initial funding package for the Maori Statutory Board under a deal agreed behind closed doors.

The Auckland Council and the board yesterday settled the funding package for the remaining eight months of this year's budget and agreed a process for the upcoming 2011-2012 budget and future years.

Under the agreement, the board has withdrawn pending High Court action aimed at recovering $2,066,000 the council's finance committee agreed to on February 8. After a public uproar, the full council subsequently reduced the funding to $1.46 million. It also reduced funding for the 2011-2012 year from $3.4 million to an indicative $1.9 million.

Secrecy has surrounded the new funding package. Mayor Len Brown gathered 11 votes, just enough to stop nine councillors who wanted to debate the council's new negotiating position in public on Tuesday. Yesterday, the board met behind closed doors to approve the package.

The package includes $984,200 in direct costs to the board, including remuneration of $75,000 for board chairman David Taipari, about $65,000 for deputy chair Patience Te Ao and about $53,000 for board members.

The council has agreed to provide finance and information technology services worth $264,000, two policy advisers and audit services worth $265,000 and one-off accommodation costs of $250,000 to house the board and staff in central Auckland.

Last night, Mr Taipari acknowledged the various forms of funding and support allowed the board to deliver the work programme set out in the initial $2,066,000 funding package.

He said it was his understanding that some of the support services were not a direct cost for the board because they were budgeted for in other areas.

Mr Brown yesterday tried to put the controversial issue behind him.

"Both the council and board can now look forward to working together in the best interests of all Aucklanders," he said.

Mr Brown said it had not been easy for the council to comply with the legislation that set up the board and resulted in the unelected board members sitting on 11 council committees with voting rights.

Labour's Auckland issues spokesman Phil Twyford said the board structure was flawed and should be binned.

"Rodney Hide and the National-Maori Party Government set up this strange beast. They would be doing Aucklanders a great favour if they abolished the board and legislated for Maori seats," Mr Twyford said.

FUNDING PACKAGE

Direct board costs: $984,200
Finance and IT support costs: $264,000
Staffing and audit costs: $265,000
Accommodation costs: $250,000
Total: $1,763,200

For 2010-2011 financial year

- NZ Herald

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