Group condemns Maori council posts

By Staff Reporter editorial@age.co.nz -
3 comments
A political lobby group, Democracy Action, has come out against the proposed appointment of two Maori representatives with full voting rights to two Masterton District Council committees. PHOTO/FILE
A political lobby group, Democracy Action, has come out against the proposed appointment of two Maori representatives with full voting rights to two Masterton District Council committees. PHOTO/FILE

A pressure group says Masterton District Council has "perverted democracy" in moving to appoint iwi to its council committees.

Democracy Action said it was deeply concerned by the proposed appointment of two Maori representatives with full voting rights to Masterton District Council's policy and finance, and audit and risk committees.

The representatives will not be allowed to vote at full council meetings.

The council's 2015-2025 Long-Term Plan identified the need for the council to explore better ways of involving Maori in its decision-making processes.

The Auckland-based lobby group stands for only "elected and accountable" members having voting rights within local authority.

Democracy Action chairman Lee Short said if Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitane o Wairarapa wanted to influence the direction of council, "they should have had their representatives stand for elected office".

"It is imperative our system of government is democratic, and that each of us is equal under the law."

Last year, New Plymouth said no to a Maori ward in a landslide vote after a binding referendum, when 83 per cent voted against it.

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd, who championed the idea, said he believed legislation victimised Maori and was stuck in the 1840s.

This month Mr Judd said he would not stand for re-election, as he had been abused, including being spat at, for supporting a Maori ward.

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