Luxon might consider asking about the need for iwi appointees to sit on council committees after Maori wards are established

National’s local government spokesman, Christopher Luxon, said his party welcomed the review of local government recently announced by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

National supported the Future of Local Government review, he said.

But he cautioned that the Ardern government had shown time and again it has an appetite for amalgamation.

He referenced charter schools, polytechnics and DHBs.

“This review cannot become a byword for centralisation or an opportunity for power to be taken away from ratepayers. It’s crucial that outcomes are led by communities, not by central government.”

 But Luxon didn’t make much fuss (not that we could find, at least) when the Wellington City Council voted to give voting rights to iwi representatives appointed to sit on an array of council committees at the same time as it was considering proposals (since given the go-ahead) to introduce a Maori ward. Continue reading “Luxon might consider asking about the need for iwi appointees to sit on council committees after Maori wards are established”

Capital thinking on decolonisation – give voting rights to tribal appointees on council committees and mute the voice of non-Maori

Eight Wellington City Councillors – given the critical constitutional choice of Treaty partnership or democracy – yesterday voted in favour of further undermining the council’s democratic election and decision-making structures by granting voting rights to the representatives appointed by Maori tribes to sit on council committees.

Only six councillors voted against an arrangement to allow one representative from each of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira to sit on most council committees and subcommittees with full voting rights from 1 July.

The council will reimburse each tribe by paying an annual fee, equivalent to the remuneration of a full time elected member, which is currently $111,225.

Some councillors egregiously magnified their anti-democratic instincts by rebuking the Mayor (as the Dominion-Post reports) for

“ … putting forward an amendment calling for the ‘significant’ change to be put out for public feedback before going to a council vote.”

Curiously, the words “significant” has been put in quotes.

Does the newspaper think otherwise?

Apparently yes, because its report of this governance vote (relegated to Page 4 this morning)  focused on Mayor Andy Foster being accused of “delay tactics” for suggesting the proposal be taken to the public for discussion.

One councillor, Jenny Condie, said the proposal did not require formal public feedback because it would be “rectifying an injustice”.

But shouldn’t the public be allowed to assess the nature of this injustice and influence the remedy? Continue reading “Capital thinking on decolonisation – give voting rights to tribal appointees on council committees and mute the voice of non-Maori”

Guidance in good governance is called for – Wellington City won’t get a commissioner (not yet) but Wainuiomata lane vote will be revisited

Local body governance in the Wellington region has been found wanting in the past day or so.  City councillors in Wellington and community board members in Wainuiomata are being pressed to seek instruction on how to do a better job.

The decisions of Wellington City’s fractious councillors have huge implications for the rates burden. Those of the Wainuiomata Community Board – where cultural education is being recommended – demonstrate how a vote is prone to be overturned if local Maori are affronted.

For now, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has ruled out appointing a Crown commissioner for Wellington City Council where councillors have been wrangling over the future of the city’s central library.

According to Stuff:

The idea of a Crown observer or commissioner overseeing the council has been raised several times over the past year, and has come up again following disagreements over plans to privatise parts of the library building.

But that’s not the end of it, because … . Continue reading “Guidance in good governance is called for – Wellington City won’t get a commissioner (not yet) but Wainuiomata lane vote will be revisited”

Back from a $20,000 course, mayor displays his leadership skills in explaining plans for hefty rates rises

Wasn’t leadership among the attributes claimed by the Mayor of Wellington while campaigning for the job before the local body elections last year?

We thought so – until we heard he had been despatched (or despatched himself) to a leadership course near Queenstown.

The news was reported by Stuff:

Wellington ratepayers are forking out $20,000 for the mayor’s leadership programme at a luxury resort.

Multiple sources have confirmed to Stuff that Wellington Mayor Andy Foster was away on a six-day leadership retreat at Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown, north of Queenstown.

We can only wonder what they taught him, because the next thing we learn from the Wellington city council is that rates could be raised by 9.2%.

This is being contemplated at a time when coronavirus is taking a heavy toll on local households and businesses. Continue reading “Back from a $20,000 course, mayor displays his leadership skills in explaining plans for hefty rates rises”

Councillors vote to save the planet – but hey, there are lots of other issues requiring more immediate attention

Great volumes of hot air have been spouted during debates on climate change – enough, we suspect, to exacerbate the threat of rising temperatures.

Inevitably, the declarations of a climate emergency that flow from these debates are nudged aside while the economic interests of a community are promoted.

The tourism-dependent Queenstown Lakes District Council – for example – has voted 7-4 to declare a climate emergency after a presentation by Extinction Rebellion Queenstown Lakes.

The same council has approved plans for a controversial 113-room hotel in Wanaka’s Northlake special zone, although none of 141 submissions was in support.   Residents opposed the plans because of the hotel’s reducing the area’s open space. Continue reading “Councillors vote to save the planet – but hey, there are lots of other issues requiring more immediate attention”

Wellington City Councillor wants compassion shown to marae – but how do other citizens fare?

You might get the idea from Stuff today that the Wellington City Council has been more than somewhat lax in its governance of building permits.

Stuff reported that Tapu Te Ranga Marae had only one confirmed consent when the main building burned down at the weekend.  This was for a single potting shed.

Despite that, the Wellington marae continued to have paying overnight guests including 27 Scouts cubs, who escaped Sunday’s blaze, and other school groups before that.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean confirmed to Stuff that the council could find no other consents for the entire site. Continue reading “Wellington City Councillor wants compassion shown to marae – but how do other citizens fare?”

Climate change is scary enough – but in the capital it looks like the danger will come from a sea god

Oh, the lengths local government councillors will go to in their efforts to avoid causing cultural offence.

When a spat broke out among Wellington City Councillors over the appropriateness of mentioning a Māori god in a document on the city’s climate change plan, some ducked for cover.

Perhaps they recall the  row that erupted – and the accusations of racism that flew – when scientist Bob Brockie questioned the role of the Treaty of Waitangi and the incorporation of Maori spiritual beliefs in this country’s scientific endeavours.

Wellington’s mayor is relaxed about the merging of the scientific with the mythical and defended the notion that his city’s central business district might be reclaimed not by a rising ocean (something which scientists can measure) but by Tangaroa, the Maori god of the sea (good luck to the scientists and anyone else keen to spot him or her in whatever transpires as temperatures rise). Continue reading “Climate change is scary enough – but in the capital it looks like the danger will come from a sea god”