Mana whenua gain full voting rights on Wellington City Council

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Mana whenua representatives in Wellington will be given full voting rights and will sit on nearly all council committees and subcommittees.

Wellington City Councillor Jill Day

Councillor Jill Day says there needs to be multiple ways the council engages with Māori. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

At a council meeting this morning, a majority of eight councillors to six voted in favour of the decision.

Currently, representatives from Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira are members of the Strategy and Policy Committee, and the Annual / Long Term Plan Committee.

They receive no remuneration and have no voting rights.

Under the plan change, to come into effect from 1 July 2021, the representatives will sit on all committees and subcommittees, except for the the CEO Performance Review Committee.

The council has also made a first step towards establishing a Māori ward, in time for the next election.

“A Māori ward in itself is not the only tool we should be using to engage with Māori,” said Councillor Jill Day. “We need to be using multiple tools.

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“We need to be creative, and we also need to not accept the status quo, so we do need to challenge and we do need to change and [to] be expecting our systems to become more inclusive.

“Our past has been that Māori have been legislatively excluded from decision-making, which they were actually promised the right to be a part of.”

Taranaki Whānui and Ngāti Toa will be given annual remuneration of $111,225, the same as an elected member.

Move applauded

While one person will be appointed to each committee and subcommittee from each, the person nominated may be different for the various committees and subcommittees.

“Te Tiriti recognises the right of iwi participation – this is supported by international law,” said Naomi Solomon, from Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

“Mana whenua perspectives are actually required to be given effect to within the laws of Aotearoa New Zealand, such as through the RMA [Resource Management Act] and Local Government Act.

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“Having representation that includes voting rights and remuneration actually aids in our ability to discharge our obligations as mana whenua.

“We are at a place in our journey as a nation, where it’s time for this to happen.”

Wellington City Council is not the first council to have made such moves. For example, in Rotorua Lakes Council, iwi representatives sit on a few committees, with full voting rights, and the equivalent remuneration as for an elected member.

Hamilton City Council has an agreement with Waikato-Tainui and Te Rūnanga o Kirikiriroa, with representatives sitting on all committees, and receiving an annual fee of $110,000 per appointee per committee.

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