Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Board seeks $295m over 10 years for Maori

Len Brown had an open mind about putting more money in the budget for Maori. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Len Brown had an open mind about putting more money in the budget for Maori. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The Maori Statutory Board is seeking $295 million over 10 years from Auckland ratepayers to advance Maori interests.

A Maori events centre, access to affordable housing, funding for Maori wardens, a marae development fund and ranger training for parks, particularly on ancestral land, are on a long list of items the independent board wants funded.

A greater say in the day-to-day running of the Super City is a top priority with Maori participating in setting bylaws and regional planning, and greater provision for the Treaty of Waitangi in council documents.

Yesterday, councillors at a strategy and finance committee meeting rejected the late addition of $295 million into the draft 10-year budget, but asked officers to go away and see where the board's request matched existing budgets.

For example, the council's Twin Streams project to restore polluted waterways with native trees is believed to be similar to the board's Mauri (life-force of ancestral lands and waters) goal to improve the health of streams and wetlands.

Maori Statutory Board chairman David Taupiri said the board was seeking 3 per cent of the council's budget for 10 per cent of the population.

He said the funding request was a "foresight of Parliament", which set up the independent board to ensure Maori were recognised in the Super City.

The board, he said, wanted the council to live up to expectations under the Local Government Act and Super City legislation to support Maori through the long-term budget.

Mr Taupiri said it was up to the council to determine which requests were offset by existing budgets before deciding a cut of the pie for Maori.

Mayor Len Brown said the board was doing what it was mandated to do and its requests would be weighed against other requests and priorities.

He had an open mind about putting more money in the budget for Maori on top of what matched existing budgets, but said it would have to come from cuts elsewhere because the draft budget was at "max".

Mr Brown, who must propose the budget, has separately included $15 million over the next 10 years to increase Maori capacity. The board costs a further $3.2 million a year to run, of which $1.3 million comes from shared services with the council.

Papakura councillor Calum Penrose opposed the funding because he did not support the Maori board.

"The simple reason I don't support it is because we are all one. We will have all different races saying we want this and we want that," he said.

Waitemata councillor Mike Lee said it was a paradox that the Government had set up the board as an independent body but it had to be funded by ratepayers.

Meanwhile, the committee approved Mr Brown's draft 10-year budget to go out for public consultation by 12 votes to 9 with several centre-right councillors querying the $2.4 billion inner-city rail loop, debt ballooning from $3.4 billion to more than $8 billion by 2020 and a possible credit rating downgrade by agency Standard & Poor's.

Mr Brown said the budget was transformational and prudent. It forecasts a rates rise of 3.6 per cent next year and then increases of between 4.5 per cent and 5 per cent.

Maori wishlist

$72.37m
Kaitiakitanga. Guardianship of the sky, sea and land

$11.84m
Wahi Tapu. Sacred and significant Maori ancestral sites

$31.754m
Mauri. Lifeforce of ancestral lands and waters

$116.139m
Rangatiratanga. Chiefly authority, authority over resources and affairs

$7.78m
Te tiri o Waitangi. Treaty rights and obligations$9.25mOritetanga. Right to participate within the community

$42.8m
Mana of Tamaki. Makaurau iwi and hapu co-governance arrangements$3.298mMatauranga Maori. Maori knowledge

$295.231m
Total.

- NZ Herald

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