Auckland Council failing Maori interests, draft report says

By Yvonne Tahana

Mayor Len Brown. Photo / APN
Mayor Len Brown. Photo / APN

A funding row over Maori initiatives in Auckland could end up in court, a source has warned, citing a draft report showing that Auckland Council is largely failing to meet statutory obligations to Maori.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers audit, commissioned by the Independent Maori Statutory Board, states that the council is failing its compliance with the Treaty-related legislation in all of the 10 measured areas.

A highly placed board source said the review would give it more ammunition to fight for an increased slice of the funding pie for Maori.

"We want our fair share. [The council] hasn't got their heads around it. The days of the tyranny of the majority are over. We've got legislation that says they have to conduct themselves transparently and fairly."

Court action to force the issue was looking increasingly likely, the source said.

Tension has been brewing between the council and the board over the level of funding to advance Maori interests. The board wants $295 million over 10 years but Mayor Len Brown initially offered $15 million. A board source said that had subsequently been increased to $23 million.

Board chairman David Taipari, however, said the audit was still in draft form, and that it was a separate issue from funding.

He said he was hopeful the funding divide could be resolved.

He would not be drawn, however, on whether court was an option if the issue was not solved.

Mayor Len Brown said he had not received the report but would comment once he had.

Mr Brown's statement said: "We are working through requests for funding for a range of projects. With this proposal we are looking at what activities are already being undertaken by council and what projects will deliver the most benefit to Maori."

WHAT THE REPORT FOUND
* The PWC audit assessed whether the council was compliant with Maori legislative rights set out in various Local Government Acts, the Public Works Act and the Resource Management Act.
* Six of 10 areas measured received a "high" rating - a serious weakness likely to compromise Maori legislative rights.
* Performance in the other four areas received a "significant" rating - where weaknesses were almost certain to compromise rights.
* The report said there were instances "where good practice is occurring, but this often relates to institutional knowledge rather than embedded processes working as intended."


- NZ Herald

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