A proposal designed to give Te Arawa a greater voice on the Rotorua District Council certainly got people talking at the weekend.

District councillors were shown the proposal at a workshop on Thursday last week and a report on it was subsequently given to the Rotorua Daily Post by Councillor Mike McVicker.

The report, by an Auckland-based solicitor, suggests a new model for the council which would help improve the council's working relationship with Te Arawa.

It suggests a new Te Arawa board be established that would consist of eight members - six of those appointed by a Te Arawa-mandated entity and two appointed during a Te Arawa hui-a-iwi (tribal meeting).


The new board could replace the Te Arawa Standing Committee, which has been stood down while the council finds a better method of using Te Arawa's voice.

Mr McVicker said in Saturday's paper he had concerns with the proposal as it would allow unelected members to make decisions for the council.

He described it as "undemocratic" and allowing "race-based electoral privilege".

There is no question the council needs to work on its relationship with Te Arawa. For years its Te Arawa Standing Committee has been criticised as toothless and the council was given something of a ticking off by the Environment Court last year after it misled local hapu Ngati Makino and Ngati Pikiao over its handling of a resource consent process. That error cost ratepayers $115,000 in court costs.

Mayor Steve Chadwick and councillor and cultural ambassador Trevor Maxwell have said they are disappointed Mr McVicker had given the report to the media before the council had a chance to consult Te Arawa.

But Mr McVicker said he did it because he thought the public had a right to know.

It certainly does.

But before we jump to conclusions, let's remember this proposal is not a done deal. For all we know, Te Arawa might reject it.


Plus I'm sure the council wouldn't be so foolish as to make such big changes without some kind of public consultation.