Horizons regional councillors were applauded in a Stuff editorial when they decided to conduct a two-months trial to live-stream their meetings.
The editorial agreed with Cr John Barrow, who said Horizons covers a wide Manawatu-Whanganui area area and live-streaming would get more people involved.
“The more scrutiny we get, the better”.
Editorial writer Jimmy Ellingham said it’s easy to argue that anyone can come along to watch a council meeting, but the realities of modern life make that difficult, especially for daytime meetings.
Horizons has 5500 followers on Facebook and even a tiny fraction of that number choosing to watch a live-stream of a council meeting would be a positive.
While the council voted to enhance democracy with live-streaming in its region, the same can’t be said of plans to give a privileged position to iwi to involve them more in managing Manawatū waterways. This issue was covered in another Stuff report.
As part of the changes, the council would create a committee councillors and iwi leaders would sit on to come up with strategies for different catchments.
Final decisions on what to do would still sit with the full council. Other regional councils, including Greater Wellington Regional Council, have similar models.
Yes, we know about those models and about Greater Wellington’s arrangements to give Maori representatives two votes to elect co-chairs on a working group whereas other members will get just one vote. Even more objectionable, eligibility to join the working group is dependent on applicants demonstrating an understanding of and/or commitment to the Treaty.
But back to the Horizons plan:
All Horizons councillors voted to move the process forward, but Cr John Barrow voted against going down the governance-with-iwi route.
He wanted more diversity on the committee – “I’m not happy with five or six councillors being involved either” – as plenty of groups had genuine interest in the state of water, including Federated Farmers, district councils and environmental groups.
“To neglect a significant part of our community in favour of 100 per cent iwi representation is not necessarily community representation,” he said.
That’s a strong point but:
Councillor Jono Naylor said it was ironic Barrow made those comments while a framed photocopy of the Treaty of Waitangi hung on the wall behind him.
Putting iwi and Federated Farmers in the same box was insulting and in conflict with the treaty, he said.
“This is about us trying to show a level of partnership with iwi.”
It was better to create a relationship rather than get dragged into it due to some kind of legal change, he said.
The councillors on the committee were voted onto council by the wider community, able to listen to the concerns of various groups, he said.
“We need to stop being afraid of partnership and co-governance, and start trusting that through the right process, the right kōrero and the right discussions we can get the right results.”
Councillor Wiremu Te Awe Awe quoted his ancestor Peeti Te Awe Awe, whose statue stands in The Square, Palmerston North: “We need to be walking together”.
He also said governance with iwi was in line with the treaty.
“You signed it, we signed it in good faith and we are making sure you uphold your end of it.
“Welcome to 2019.”
Point of Order’s Bob Edlin mailed Naylor and Te Awe Awe with questions about their remarks:
- Can you direct me to the words in the treaty that refer to a Maori-Crown political “partnership” and which oblige your council to think of a “co-governance” arrangement?
- When an elected council cedes part of its decision-making powers and functions to or shares them with non-elected citizens, how are your region’s democratic and accountability arrangements enhanced?
- Or have I misunderstood the proposal and the form of co-governance you advocate, and does it simply mean the council alone ultimately will make the decisions because only elected councillors can be held accountable to voters?
A fortnight later Te Awe Awe has not replied.
Naylor, in contrast, was generous with his time and information.
He answered the questions in reverse order:
- The proposed co-governance model applies only to the strategy for how we deal with Manawatu River. Final sign-off and any funding decisions still rest solely with the full council of elected members of horizons. I guess in real terms the co-governance group would realistically be operating in an advisory capacity. There is an understanding however that Council would need fairly significant rationale to overturn any decisions of the co-governance group.
- There is no “ceding” of power in this proposal, however there is a recognition that by engaging in this way we will potentially be able to form agreement at early stages and avoid costly processes including litigation at the other end of the planning process.
- Firstly, I don’t think anyone is feeling “obliged” to go down this track, but rather are trying to tack a principled approach to do the right thing. One of the challenges the Treaty of Waitangi/ Te Tiriti o Waitangi poses for Aotearoa/ New Zealand is that it was written in two languages. There is wide understanding of modern scholars that the original Te Reo Māori version was not a fair reflection of the English version. Given that most chiefs signed the Te Reo Māori version there is an argument that this is the version we should be working off. That said, working simply off the text given the two versions often creates further conflict and misunderstanding so it is a widely accepted practice to work from the commonly identified principles of Partnership, Protection and Participation. In essence, by taking this approach I believe we are providing local iwi to participate in (not dictate) the process, and council is working together in partnership with (not abrogating to) iwi.
While Te Awe Awe has yet to explain his position, let’s examine the reference to his ancestor who declared “We need to be walking together”
This is similar to Lieutenant Governor William Hobson reportedly saying “He iwi tahi tatou – we are one people” and the marble statue of Te Peeti in The Square, Palmerston North, commemorates his loyalty to the Crown (for whom he fought) and his friendship to the early settlers of the district.
A biography written by Mason Durie for the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography harks back to the days when Manawatu was invaded by groups from Waikato and northern Taranaki and Te Peeti was incensed by the attitudes of the newcomers, Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Kauwhata, in relation to land formerly possessed by his own Rangitane hapu, Ngati Hineaute and Ngai Tamawahine.
In 1863, along with neighbouring Ngati Apa, he lodged a claim to 240,000 acres of the Rangitikei–Manawatu block, and was supported by the government (who subsequently negotiated a purchase). In 1865 he played a major role in selling the 250,000 acre Ahu-a-Turanga block (Palmerston North district) to the Crown and encouraged European settlement there.
The alliance between Te Peeti and the Crown was further cemented when he joined the Native Contingent in 1866; he served with Major General Trevor Chute in the Taranaki campaign, and in the 1868–69 campaign against Titokowaru. For his efforts he received a sword of honour and a tribal flag (still in the possession of the Te Aweawe family). He was also able to retain a number of rifles, and used these in challenging the land rights of Ngati Raukawa at Tuwhakatupua in 1868.
Te Peeti and others who fought alongside the Crown did not always earn the admiration of Maori people, Durie writes – even their own tribes sometimes withheld support.
Their actions, however, need to be considered in the context of tribal reorganisation, a process in which the Crown was often used to gain an advantage. Te Peeti’s actions were frequently misconstrued as unquestioning loyalty to a colonial government, but he was much more concerned with loyalty to his own tribe. He did not hesitate to use a variety of means and agents to effect restitution from Ngati Raukawa. His mission was influenced as much by a traditional desire for utu as by the legalities and natural justice of the case.
We can only conjecture on how Te Peeti might have responded to the regional council debate in August 2017 which culminated in a decision against establishing a Maori constituency.
On that occasion, Barrow said councillors already represented everyone in the region, so there was no need for Maori delegates.
“Its basically saying I’m not up for the job.
“The people of this region vote for who they want to. That’s the way democracy works.”
There were Maori, Chinese and Indian mayors and councillors across New Zealand, Barrow said. And he didn’t believe any of them were voted in because of their race.
Iwi seemed indifferent to the idea of a Maori constituency.
Council Iwi liaison Jerald Twomey said he emailed iwi members about the potential for a Maori constituency, but only received a couple of responses.
All councillors nevertheless agreed to engage with iwi to discuss Maori participation in decision-making in other forms. We now have an idea of what they intend. Iwi representatives can sit at a council table without the hassle of campaigning for ballot-box support.