Editorial: Time to decide on Maori role

By Ingrid Tiriana

It may be time for the Rotorua District Council to hold a referendum asking locals if they want Maori seats on their council.

Te Arawa Standing Committee members have regularly raised the issue of Maori representation on the council. They say - as do others - that their committee has no power, that they have no influence and their concerns, advice and suggestions are not being put before councillors as they believe they should be.

Part of the problem, as they see it, is the fact the Te Arawa committee, basically established to advise the council and provide a local iwi perspective, is headed by the sitting mayor rather than someone they have elected.

This is what was agreed to by Te Arawa at the time the committee was established and one can argue that this should provide unbiased conveyance to elected district councillors of Te Arawa's advice and perspective. But over the years membership of the Te Arawa committee has changed and dissatisfaction with the way things are set up has grown.

Now, as we report today, coinciding with the committee's latest call for more power by way of automatic voting rights on council committees, Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell is calling once again for Maori seats to be established on our council.

It's an option that has been raised several times in recent years and a Daily Post online poll asking which of three options for Maori representation on our council people prefer (Te Arawa Standing Committee, Maori seats or none) has thrown up some interesting results. Of course, it's not a scientific poll but it may indicate that a referendum might have an interesting result.

Of those who responded to the poll, 11 per cent preferred Maori representation in the form of the Te Arawa Standing Committee while 22 per cent wanted Maori seats and 66 per cent appeared to want no special Maori representation.

Perhaps during the next council elections people in the Rotorua district should also be asked, via a referendum, what they want, or don't want, in terms of Maori representation on their council. Let's get this matter sorted.


email editor@dailypost.co.nz, text DP then your message to 021 241 4568, or write to editor, PO Box 1442, Rotorua

- Rotorua Daily Post

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