Buzz from the Beehive – and a fly in the ointment for Tweaker Coffey’s plans to rattle Rotorua’s voting arrangements

Alerted by press statements from National and ACT (here and here), Point of Order wondered if the  Report of the Attorney-General under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill had been mentioned on the Beehive website yesterday.

It hadn’t.   Since our previous report on the activities of our ministers, just two press statements had been posted.

One advised us of the Government-financed rebuild of the Rangiriri Pa Trenches complex in Waikato, the first project completed from a special regional economic development fund for sites of cultural significance. The other was a Statement on Cooperation in Agriculture between Japan and New Zealand.

The Attorney-General’s advice has been  sent to Parliament’s Maori Affairs Committee, which is chaired by list MP Tamati Coffey, and can be found on the Parliamentary website here.

It more than somewhat challenges the thinking of the Government’s Tweakocrats and Sophistocrats by stating (more or less) that in terms of complying with this country’s Bill of Rights, the Rotorua bill is a crock.

Among other things, it says:

In a representative democracy, it is important to maintain approximately the same level of representation for everyone. The proposed arrangements in the Bill would make the number of council members for the Māori ward disproportionately higher than the number of council members for the general ward in comparison to their respective populations. As the disadvantaged group is those on the General roll, changing representation arrangements away from proportional representation therefore creates a disadvantage for non-Māori as they cannot in future elect to change rolls.


This proposed arrangement detracts from the key constitutional principle of equal representation in a representative democracy. I consider that there must be strong reasons to depart from this fundamental constitutional principle and, accordingly, to justify the limit on the right to freedom from discrimination. Departures from the Local Electoral Act may also have broader constitutional impacts and need to be carefully considered. Arrangements like these, if replicated across other local bodies could result in significant impacts, which may be better considered in full by central government and Parliament.

This (we imagine) will be of interest to Coffey not only because he is chairman of the select committee but also because he is the bill’s sponsor.

Another good reason for ditching the bill – of course – is that the recently published Local Government Commission’s determination for Rotorua offers a more equitable representation arrangement for that city.

More than a week after politely asking Coffey whether the bill will proceed on the strength of that determination , we have yet to hear from him.

Latest from the Beehive

23 APRIL 2022

Rangiriri Pa trench rebuild shines a light on our shared histories

The shared nineteenth-century histories of Aotearoa-New Zealand have come to life with the official opening today of one of the most culturally significant sites of the 1860s New Zealand Wars.

 Statement on Cooperation in Agriculture between Japan and New Zealand

Japan and New Zealand’s strong partnership is built on a long tradition of official and industry engagement, underpinned by our natural complementarities and strong business relationships.

5 thoughts on “Buzz from the Beehive – and a fly in the ointment for Tweaker Coffey’s plans to rattle Rotorua’s voting arrangements

  1. If Labour now proceed with Coffey’s bill regardless of the Attorney General’s advice they will be telling most New Zealanders they consider them second class citizens. Which they probably do anyway, but it’s good to get it out in the open.

    Liked by 2 people

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