National’s decision to ditch the Maori seats on the Auckland super city is another means to remove Maori from the barest minimum of decision-making in the biggest Maori city in the country. Catherine has blogged on the general issue before but the issues are even more acute in Auckland.
According the 2006 census, nearly 25% of the Maori population live in the Auckland region. John Key has made much of his hongi with iwi leaders, meanwhile the greatest population of Maori in the country with the least representation, most dispossessed and most impoverished get nothing but the finger.
There has only been one elected Maori councillor since 1989 – that is, in the last twenty years. And before that Sandra Lee was the sole Maori voice for a number of years. Its clear that it is extremely difficult for Maori to get access to the decision-making table. And I also understand that the Auckland City council has in the last 18 months twice refused to even entertain the idea of holding a referendum on whether there should be Maori seats. If the council won’t even allow the city to consider it, what chance do Maori have of ever having adequate representation on a super council?
Now the Royal Commission was not at all generous in suggesting 3 Maori seats, so the removal of them by the Iwi/Kiwi National Party is particularly mean – though not at all unexpected. The next question is how the Maori Party will deal with this given their agreement with National that:
The relationship between the Maori Party and the National Party will be one of good faith and no surprises.
Both the National Party and the Maori Party will act in accordance with te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi.
Despite the lauded political deals National might have done they nonetheless retain the 19th century arrogance of dispensing their largesse to Maori, tightly controlled and kept in their place.