The Government's denial of Maori representation on the Auckland Super City Council is a stark sign of the lowly status accorded to Maori in New Zealand.

It was clear from leaked memos and the posturing of Local Government Minister Rodney Hide that the Government would ignore the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.

The commission said three seats on the 20-member Auckland Super City Council should be allocated to Maori. It recommended two seats be elected by voters on the Maori roll and one be appointed by mana whenua, or iwi.

Three seats reflect the percentage of the population that Maori make up in the country's largest city. It's not an extreme proposition when it is considered that not too many years ago Maori owned all the lands over which the council will soon preside.

It would also be a relatively fair compromise for an indigenous people who can demonstrate through the Treaty of Waitangi that they are entitled to representation. The royal commission, in its recommendations, regarded Maori seats as crucial to the fulfilment of Treaty obligations.

Three seats would ensure that the views of Maori figure in some form within the new Super City council, without giving an excessive influence on decisions which will impact on more than 1.3 million people.

Critics of the allocation of Maori seats use the Don Brash-coined one vote for all to undermine Maori demands. Mr Hide smugly stands on a so-called principled platform in opposing Maori seats.

It's a platform, however, that he was prepared to hop down from briefly when threatening the Government that he would quit as Local Government Minister if the Government did not support his opposition to Maori seats.

On television Paul Henry also supported the view that everyone had the chance to be elected to the Super City council [and] if Maori wanted representation they should do what everyone else does - stand and seek the people's votes.

It is a simplistic position and a convenient stance. In reality, election to the new council will be about cash and political machinery that is able to unleash a powerful campaign.

It is big money, for example, through which the far right, middle-aged to elderly, wealthy residents of Remuera and Epsom have elevated Hide to power.

The reality is that Maori have achieved just eight members to local government in wider Auckland in over 100 years. It is simple to smugly smile and point the finger back at Maori.

But let me draw a parallel which demonstrates the hurdle Maori candidates must overcome. Advertising is a delightful medium to monitor where advertisers feel there is money to be made and what groups they feel best reflect the potential or existing clients they are attempting to attract or keep.

The beauty of monitoring the positioning of advertising is that adverts are driven by economic and financial imperatives, and not by personal bias or prejudice.

Now think of how many advertisements across the various mediums that feature Maori.

There is social service advertising, quit smoking campaigns, labour hire adverts and family violence ads. There have been some advancements of late. Westpac now have a Maori couple occasionally appearing on their adverts and a young Maori boy learning to snowboard figures in a Toyota ad.

However, the vast majority of those featured in advertisements, especially those attempting to promote quality, high-value, prestigious items, are dominated by white, rich, attractive people.

I identify this anomaly not to highlight bias. I do so to highlight the reality of what is in the subconscious of most of the public. Advertisers are driven by the dollar and seek to embed perceptions.

It is a sad reality that often leaves me pondering the long journey it will take to change deeply held views and bias within the communities we all share.

Until the Maori brand is not lumped with the negative or controversial extremes, it will continue to struggle to receive equitable treatment.

Ask yourself this - which name appeals more to you as a voter - Hone Peeke, or John Banks? Rawiri Paraone, or David Brown? I suspect David and John would hold more appeal.

And if in reality both names appeared on the ballot, despite being the same person, who do you think would get the vote?

The reality is the voting population will continue to brown, and a generation of New Zealanders who now support an environment of inclusiveness and respect for tangata whenua will ensure the Maori place at the decision-making table will be restored.

However, the change in this country's demography will take more than 30 years, and we are no longer prepared to wait.

* Former MP Tukoroirangi Morgan is chairman of Waikato Tainui.