Marchers casting net wide

By Yvonne Tahana

Organisers of a hikoi to protest against the Government's decision not to provide special Maori seats on the proposed Super City council hope to attract 10,000 people from across the ethnic spectrum.

Ngarimu Blair of Ngati Whatua o Orakei said marchers would converge from four main points of Auckland for the hikoi on May 25.

He hoped a wide range of Aucklanders would take part, because although the debate focused on the seats, the wider argument was about diversity.

"It's a rights-based issue about diversity in representation. First-past-the-post has always delivered for the majority and no one else."

Interest from Maori around the country had been high, he said.

"Just as the Crown [is] probably scared about creating a precedent [by providing Maori seats], Maori are scared another precedent [will be set] where there will be no Maori seats anywhere else in the country at local government level."

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide hasn't closed the door on the issue. At the outset he said the law already provided for Auckland ratepayers to decide the issue.

But in the biggest shakeup of local government in the city's history the Government won't be legislating specifically for the seats.

Asked if there was any possibility that the Government's position would change, a spokeswoman for Mr Hide said there would be further opportunity during the select committee process for view "sharing".

"The views of those on the proposed hikoi will be listened to and considered," she said.

"Mr Hide has had several discussions with [Maori Affairs Minister] Pita Sharples on the issue of Maori representation, and will continue to talk to him."

HIKOI PLAN

Four convoys to converge on the bottom of Queen St by noon on Monday, May 25, before walking to the Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Square.

*South: Meet at 8.30am at Manukau City Council; leave by car convoy.

*East/Central: Meet at 8.30am at Bastion Pt, Orakei Marae.

*North Shore: Meet at 10am at Awataha Marae, leave by car convoy; 11am, regroup at Victoria Park.

*West: Meet at 9am at Te Piringatahi o Te Maungarongo Marae, West Harbour; 11am, regroup at Victoria Park.

CBD parking details to be announced.

- NZ Herald

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