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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Council backing royal commission Auckland plan

Support for Maori representation on Auckland Super City is growing.

Yesterday the North Shore City Council told the select committee on the issue that the government should change its position and follow a royal commission recommendation for separate Maori seats.

And Waitakere deputy mayor Penny Hulse who will make submissions on behalf of the city to the committee tomorrow says a survey found residents were evenly split on the issue.

“Which is why we said in our submission that we’ll leave it to government to decide the form of Maori representation but that we would like to see Maori representation on the Auckland council and once that decision was made we were keen to see that replicated throughout New Zealand,” Ms Hulse says.

REPRESENTATION FIGHT MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOREHORE JIHAD

Labour MP Shane Jones says if it comes down to a choice for Maori between representation on Auckland Super City or repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed legislation he would recommend they go for the council seats.

A number of political commentators including Bill Ralston and Matt McCarten have suggested there may be a trade off between the two things and Shane Jones who is Labour's local government spokesperson agrees it could well come down to this.

He says he would refine the Foreshore and Seabed Act which is different to a complete rewrite and fight hard for local government representation.

“I would do that because it’s gong to change the nature of governance, it’s going to be a process for effectively increasing the participation of Maori in local government. This is going to be like a state within a state. We’re talking $28 billion. That’s nigh on two and a half times the size of Fonterra, so we’re talking about a mother of an enterprise here,” Mr Jones says.

SAUNA SITE FOR UNLTRAMARATHON BUILD UP

The head of the Taranaki sports Trust says his ultramarathon running cousin is the toughest woman he's ever met.

Ultra distance runner Lisa Tamati set off a few hours ago in the
Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley in California, a repeat of last year's run when she became the first wahine from New Zealand to complete the arduous 217 kilometre desert run in conditions often hovering around 55 degrees.

Her cousin Howie Tamati, a former New Zealand League Captain says she is a wonderful athlete, who has been known to go on 150 km training runs around Taranaki's iconic mountain.

He says she is focused and determined, and the heat was really on in the buildup to her Californian challenge, as training took place in the sauna.

MANA WHENUA FIGHT HEADING FOR INEVITABLE LOSS

A Maori MP on the select committee looking into the future governance of Auckland is advising Maori to back away from fighting for mana whenua seats on a super city council and to argue for representatives elected from the Maori role.

Labour's spokesperson on local government Shane Jones says if this stance is not taken then Maori could end up with nothing.

“I have no confidence whatsoever that John Key or Rodney want to establish Maori seats. And I think the longer you push exclusively for a mana whenua model you’re actually making it easier for the government of the day so say this is such a departure form the established norms of democracy that we just can’t have it. I know for a fact that’s what they will say,” Mr Jones says.

He says Maori should also fight for a mana whenua clause in the legislation setting up the super city which requires the new institution to meet, fund and achieve agreed objectives with a mana whenua forum.

The Royal Commission recommended three Maori seats with one of them representing mana whenua while both the iwi groups claiming mana whenua status Ngati Whatua and Tainui have told the select committee that all the Maori seats should be allocated to mana whenua who will look after other Maori living in the city.

DOLE QUEUE RISE EXPECTED OUTCOME OF GOVERNMENT INACTION

Maori Union Leader Matt McCarten says figures showing a sharp rise in numbers on the dole are not unexpected bearing in mind the government's meagre response to job losses throughout the country.

There are now more than 50,000 people in the unemployment lines , many of them young Maori and Pacific Island workers laid off as a result of the global economic downturn.

Mr McCarten from the Unite Union head predicts the Maori rates will rise even further and says tangata whenua have a right to be annoyed at the government's lack of action on job losses.

“I can see it hitting over 10 percent. Whatever the official number is, it’s normally over two and a half to three times the percentage for Maori, so when it’s 8 percent it’s about 24 percent for Maori and Maori and young people and to a lesser extent the Pacific Island community are going to get hit first,” Mr McCarten says.

He says the government's meagre response to the economic jobs summit earlier this year was a national cycleway or a kick start at McDonalds for the unemployed, while ignoring the job creation schemes needed to keep Maori workers off the dole.

GOVERNMENT WEBSITES NEED TO DO MORE TO PROMOTE TE REO

The chief executive officer of the Maori language commission says Government agencies have a responsibility to enhance the status of Te Reo Maori and one way to do this is by including Maori language content on their websites.

A Human Rights Commission survey has found central and local government websites have little or no Te Reo content despite Maori being an official language of New Zealand.

Huhana Rokx says it is essential that the importance of Te Reo is reflected by bilingual websites.

“If you see it on web sites, the signal you are giving is you appreciate it and you support it and the promotion is very important to you as an agency, so we’re encouraging agencies to begin to look at their resourcing in terms of te reo on websites, and not just websites, the provision of services in Maori,” Mrs Rokx says.

She is challenging local and central government agencies to do something about this for Maori Language Week later this month.

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