The PM is telling us power resides in the ownership of water assets, so we shouldn’t fret about how much muscle Maori can flex

It sounded curiously like something out of a Marxist textbook – the notion that power sits with ownership.  

The relationship between ownership and power – it seems – should be more important to us than the issue of representation in the country’s democratic institutions or the concept of one person, one vote. 

The Prime Minister might try explaining her ideas to the good people of Canterbury, after her government’s MPs enthusiastically voted in support of legislation which ends equality of suffrage in procedures for electing councillors to the Canterbury Regional Council.  All residents will get to vote for the elected councillors (so far, so good), but residents who belong to the Ngai Tahu tribe get two more councillors, appointed by tribal leaders, for reasons that boil down to ancestry.

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene, speaking during the third reading debate, said the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu Representation) Amendment Bill was

“… about the evolution of our treaty partnership and representation of Māori, of iwi at the local government level”.

These are ominous words, portending the bill will serve as a model for other Māori tribes in their push for the so-called “Treaty partnership” to be given tangible expression in all forms of government.

Next on the Government’s agenda – aiming for 50 per cent Māori/50 per cent Crown representation – is the government’s plan to have all local authority water assets come under the administration and management of four new structures under the Three Waters programme.

Continue reading “The PM is telling us power resides in the ownership of water assets, so we shouldn’t fret about how much muscle Maori can flex”

Improved local government legislation? Not when Mahuta wants to make it mandatory to consider more Māori wards

When Nanaia Mahuta talks about improving local government processes, alarm bells should ring.

In a statement earlier this week, the Minister of Local Government said improvements to processes for electing councils at the next local government elections in 2025 have been introduced to Parliament in a measure called the Local Government Electoral Legislation Bill.

The legislation covers decisions about Māori wards, the number of councillors at Auckland Council, more consistent rules for a coin toss if an election result is tied, and filing nominations electronically, amongst other issues.

“The overall objective for the changes is to improve the processes for individuals and communities to participate and be represented in local elections,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“The Local Government Electoral Legislation Bill brings together a range of diverse issues for improvements as an omnibus piece of legislation. It picks up recommendations that followed inquiries into the local elections in 2016 and 2019.”

Mahuta had a bit more to say about Māori wards. Continue reading “Improved local government legislation? Not when Mahuta wants to make it mandatory to consider more Māori wards”

Democracy or the Treaty? Faafoi can’t see it, but cocooning Ngāi Tahu from Canterbury voters makes the answer all too clear

National and ACT MPs this week were given a platform to express their objections to the democracy-enfeebling Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill.

This legislation will give one group of Canterbury citizens, Ngāi Tahu tribal leaders,  a governance  privilege that has been given to nobody else in this country.  They will be able to avoid the challenge of nominating candidates, then campaigning for popular support at the ballot box to win places on the regional council.   Rather, they will appoint two councillors who will have full decision-making powers (often on matters affecting the tribe’s considerable business interests).

National MP Paul Goldsmith, during the second reading debate, said the Nats were opposing the bill

“… because it alters and offends two key principles of the democracy that we have enjoyed in this country for many decades and is fundamental to the success of New Zealand as a democratic country.”

The first is that all New Zealanders have equal voting rights.

The second is that there is accountability at the ballot box on a regular basis. Continue reading “Democracy or the Treaty? Faafoi can’t see it, but cocooning Ngāi Tahu from Canterbury voters makes the answer all too clear”

Why is Lower Hutt’s Mayor over-riding local sentiment on Three Waters? Check out his party ticket and the pledge that went with it

Signatories to a recently launched petition are urging the Government to introduce civics education into schools nationwide.

Joni Tomsett, described by RNZ as a 28-year-old student from the Tasman region, launched the petition on the community campaign platform OurActionStation to make civics education a core subject in all secondary schools by 2026.

Tomsett also happens to be a member of the Motueka Community Board of Tasman District Council,

During civics lessons, students would be taught the basics of government, voting, and how the democratic process worked.

The idea is commendable.

Should it be adopted, Point of Order suggests Hutt City councillor Chris Milne contribute to the  preparation of content for the local government component.  He is especially enlightening on the numbing influence of the Labour Party on decision-making by councillors who have campaigned and been elected on the Labour ticket.

This article by Cr Milne was reproduced on Kiwiblog –  Continue reading “Why is Lower Hutt’s Mayor over-riding local sentiment on Three Waters? Check out his party ticket and the pledge that went with it”

Yes, we know about the Rotorua councillor’s resignation – but the legality of the mayor’s secrecy motion has gone unquestioned

Malcolm Harbrow, an admirably dogged campaigner against governmental secrecy on his No Right Turn blog, has drawn attention to something the mainstream media missed.

He has focused on the legality of Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick’s actions at a stormy meeting of the Rotorua Lakes Council.

RNZ is among the media which reported on the meeting, where a motion to move into confidential session over the controversial Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill triggered a councillor’s immediate resignation.

No Right Turn has provided a link to the council’s livestream recording of the meeting (from 4:15 to 8:15), so we can see for ourselves what happened.

It then notes that RNZ‘s focus is on the resignation, but something has been missed – the mayor’s secrecy motion:

At a full council meeting today, Chadwick moved to include a discussion about the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill into a confidential section of the meeting.

She said it was to “enable us all as council, together, to have a free and frank discussion in response to the attorney general’s request for further information needed to develop policy work”. Continue reading “Yes, we know about the Rotorua councillor’s resignation – but the legality of the mayor’s secrecy motion has gone unquestioned”

Mahuta and Robertson are flushed with enthusiasm as they pump revised Three Waters plans back into the political pipes

The Labour Government is again using a Friday while the Prime Minister is on leave to dump information, ACT Leader David Seymour claimed in a press statement today.   

He referenced an announcement on Friday last week setting out the  next steps on He Puapua, the government’s programme for extending the meaning of “Treaty partnership” and discriminating in favour of “indigenous” people as “special”.

Today, the government has released its decision on Three Waters.

Just one thing.  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson certainly have announced the Government’s Three Waters plans.

But when Point of Order checked The Beehive website at 3.30pm – well, it still wasn’t there.

In his statement, David Seymour noted that Three Waters and He Puapua involve major constitutional reform.

“They are issues that deserve sunlight and proper debate,” he said.

“It’s frankly pathetic from Labour to try to quietly release these on Friday while Jacinda is unavailable for interviews.” Continue reading “Mahuta and Robertson are flushed with enthusiasm as they pump revised Three Waters plans back into the political pipes”

Democracy and voter equality is all Greek to Coffey – but he does favour tweaking the electoral system to give us a Treatocracy

Tamati Coffey, a Labour list MP and chairman of Parliament’s Māori Affairs Committee, may well be busy answering hundreds of letters. Point of Order therefore should be more patient while we await his responses to questions we put to him.

On the other hand, he may ignore all correspondence.

In that case we would have cause to be aggrieved because – as the chairman of a select committee – we understand that our taxes contribute to his Parliamentary salary of $179,713 plus an expenses entitlement of $16,980.

The questions we emailed to Coffey on Thursday last week were triggered by the recently published Local Government Commission’s determination for Rotorua.

This would result in three Māori Ward Councillors being elected in Rotorua’s local government elections, but (as Kiwiblog pointed out) without sacrificing the important principle of equality of suffrage. Continue reading “Democracy and voter equality is all Greek to Coffey – but he does favour tweaking the electoral system to give us a Treatocracy”

Treaty settlements, environmental management and the insidious march from co-management to co-governance

We can’t be sure, here at Point of Order, about when “co-governance” was first introduced to this country’s political vocabulary.  For some time before ministers were talking about co-governance, they had been talking about co-management.

There’s a difference. A big difference, when it comes to constitutional arrangements within public authorities.

According to one distinction we uncovered, “governance” is the strategic task of setting the organisation’s goals, direction, limitations and accountability frameworks. “Management” is the allocation of resources and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organisation.

The first mention of co-governance we could find on the Beehive website – which records all ministerial statements and speeches and statements since 1993 – was made by John Luxton in May 1997.  As Associate Minister of International Trade, addressing guests at a meat industry function, he talked about the meat industry’s movement into the next millennium.

He said the development of co-governance principles under CER were among the government priorities he mentioned.

Obviously that had nothing to do with the Treaty of Waitangi, although someone is bound to pop up and insist everything that happens in this country is Treaty-related.

The first mention of co-governance in the context of Crown-iwi relations was made by Christopher Finlayson, Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Settlements, in 2009, according to our search of the Beehive website.  He also shifted the parameters of Treaty-related expectations.  Continue reading “Treaty settlements, environmental management and the insidious march from co-management to co-governance”

Local Govt Commission over-rides Rotorua’s undemocratic voting model – but what will Labour-majority Parliament do?

Kiwiblog today reports that the Local Government Commission has completed a determination for Rotorua which will result in three Māori Ward Councillors being elected, but without sacrificing equality of suffrage.

As Kiwiblog tells us, the commission favours –

  • An urban general ward – 48,410 people elect six councillors – 8,068 population per councillor.
  • A Māori ward – 21,700 people elect three councillors – 7,233 population per councillor.
  • A rural general ward – 7,200 people elect one councillor – 7,200 population per councillor.

This means the commission has rejected Rotorua Lakes Council’s model which comprised one Māori ward seat, one general ward seat and eight at-large seats.

To implement the council model, special legislation has been introduced to Parliament to over-ride requirements of the Local Elections Act.

The local bill, the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill, passed its first reading in Parliament last week and is being examined by a Parliamentary select committee.

Not the Governance and Administration Committee which looks at business related to local government, it should be noted.

At the bill’s first reading, Parliament (or rather, Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party) voted to refer it to the Māori Affairs Committee which looks at business related to Māori affairs and Treaty of Waitangi negotiations.

This committee is chaired by Labour list MP Tamati Coffey who is zealously sponsoring the bill. Continue reading “Local Govt Commission over-rides Rotorua’s undemocratic voting model – but what will Labour-majority Parliament do?”

You thought voting rights and representation was a governance matter? Get to grips with the Treaty and sophistication

We were alerted by David Farrar to the further crumbling of local government democracy under the Ardern Government – or, as she would put it, to making our governance arrangements more sophisticated.

The outrage – or sophistication , depending on your ideology – goes further than Farrar reported in a post headed Parliament votes to end “one person, one vote” (although some of his readers picked up on it).

Yes, the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill abandons the key constitutional concept that all Kiwis have the same voting rights. 

But check out how the government opted to deal with legislation which prescribes how the people of Rotorua will be able to vote and how their council will be structured.  It is being treated as a Maori Affairs issue, not a local government issue.  

The job of Parliament’s Governance and Administration Committee is to look at business related to parliamentary and legislative services, Prime Minister and Cabinet, State services, statistics, internal affairs, civil defence and emergency management, and local government.

This committee, although chaired by National’s Ian McKelvie, has a Labour majority.

But at the bill’s first reading, Parliament voted to refer it to the Māori Affairs Committee.

The job of this committee is to look at business related to Māori affairs and Treaty of Waitangi negotiations.

It is chaired by Labour list MP Tamati Coffey.

And – guess what, dear reader? Continue reading “You thought voting rights and representation was a governance matter? Get to grips with the Treaty and sophistication”