Iwi were given voting rights on Hastings council committees in 2019 – and now the Maori voice is being amplified

Two years ago we reported on the Battle of Hastings, 2019. On one side, the stalwarts of democracy were intent on defending their concept of the best form of government for their district.  On the other side were the champions of attenuated lines of accountability between citizens and those who govern them.

The democrats were outnumbered and the Hastings District Council voted to fortify iwi influence by appointing four members of the Maori Joint Committee to the council’s four standing committees with voting rights.

Waatea News reported news of the vote under the heading Hastings to hear Māori voice.

This mischievously overlooked the full contents of a council press statement which noted: Continue reading “Iwi were given voting rights on Hastings council committees in 2019 – and now the Maori voice is being amplified”

Forget about invigoration – LGNZ should aim to restore the democracy its members have debased

Invigorating our democracy was the noble cause championed by  Local Government New Zealand president Dave Cull in a speech to more than 600 local and central government delegates, including the PM.   

Point of Order would press instead for  the restoration of democracy in local government.

Many of the 600 delegates will have been party to council decisions – without reference to their citizens – to arrange for iwi representatives to sit on council committees without the hassle of having to campaign for electoral support.

Waikato District Council – while Cull was speaking – was preparing a statement to declare it is planning “to introduce external specialist Maaori representatives to its principle Council Committees after the October 2019 local government elections”. Continue reading “Forget about invigoration – LGNZ should aim to restore the democracy its members have debased”

Open letter to associate professor sharpens the focus on Treaty of Waitangi and its influence on governance

A champion of the growing practice of appointing iwi representatives to sit with elected representatives on local authority decision-making bodies didn’t have a great deal to say, when questions were emailed to her.

Much of the little she did say – published on Point of Order last month – has been challenged by Bruce Moon in an open letter posted on Breaking Views.

The thrust and parry were triggered by governance changes on the Hastings District Council, which last month voted to appoint Māori representatives with speaking and voting rights to its four standing committees.

The council press statement which announced the decision noted 25 per cent of the local population is Māori and five of the council’s 14 elected members (33 per cent of the total) have identified as being of Maori descent.

The council voted in favour of appointing more Maori to join the elected ones “to be more inclusive and hear the voice of our iwi partners”.  

Associate Professor Maria Bargh, Victoria University of Wellington Te Kawa a Māui Head of School, welcomed this bypassing of the electoral system and the granting of speaking and voting rights to iwi appointees.

Her reasonscan be found in an article on the VUW website headed Academics commend Hastings District Council for inclusive, effective decision-making, .

Continue reading “Open letter to associate professor sharpens the focus on Treaty of Waitangi and its influence on governance”

Hurrah – three MPs are sent to bat for democracy (but they will be doing it in Doha)

Just a few days after the Hastings District Council voted to change its governance system, the Speaker of the NZ House of Representatives, Trevor Mallard, announced the despatch of three members of Parliament to champion democracy.

No, they aren’t headed for the Hawke’s Bay to remonstrate with the Mayor and councillors who voted to attenuate their democratic system by appointing four members of the Maori Joint Committee to the council’s four standing committees.

Rather, as the heading on the press statement tells us, they are headed for Doha, Qatar, to participate in a “global forum for democracy” from 5 to 10 April .

The statement says:

New Zealand MPs participate in global forum to advance democracy, human rights, and peace

Three Members of Parliament will represent New Zealand at the 140th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, where democracy, human rights, and peace will be on the agenda.

Continue reading “Hurrah – three MPs are sent to bat for democracy (but they will be doing it in Doha)”

Anyone else want to weaken local government democracy? Oh, yes – the Hastings District Council

The Hastings District Council is about to decide if it, too, should debase its democratic governance system and grant voting rights to unelected members who will sit alongside elected councillors on its standing committees.

A proposal to amend constitutional arrangements and weaken the council’s lines of accountability to citizens and ratepayers will be considered by the council at its next full council meeting on Thursday.  

After how much robust public debate?

Good question.

The aim – according to a council press statement – is to

” … bring about more informed, inclusive, effective decision making.”  Continue reading “Anyone else want to weaken local government democracy? Oh, yes – the Hastings District Council”