Maori roles still undecided

By John Maslin

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Whanganui's district council appears to be in no rush to open the door for direct Maori representation in its deliberations.

The Masterton council has voted to appoint representatives from Wairarapa's two iwi, each with speaking and voting rights, to its policy and finance, and audit and risk committees.

Those representatives will also have speaking rights at full council meetings, which ratify the recommendations from the two standing committees.

But Whanganui Mayor Annette Main said her council has not debated that issue yet.

"There have been no conversations at this stage with iwi around using this ability to appoint to committees," Ms Main told the Chronicle.

At the moment the council works with Tamaupoko Link, council's iwi connection and she said that was working well.

"This current process for input and engagement appears to be working well. Certainly there is very open discussion and as a consequence much improved decision-making.

"However, if there are better ways to achieve the level of engagement required then our council would always happy to discuss this," Ms Main said.

Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said the appointment of unelected iwi representatives with voting rights to council committees was not common, but more councils would be considering it as Treaty processes advanced.

Legislation, especially the Treaty, required councils to consult Maori, but there were various ways to do so, from Maori wards to iwi representatives having voting rights or observer status.

Mr Yule said it would be up to individual council and communities to decide.

Kapiti Coast and Rotorua district councils appoint Maori representatives to standing committees, with Rotorua's having full voting rights. New Plymouth District Council voted against giving voting rights to Maori appointees to two committees two years ago.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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