I was at a meeting recently when a gentleman spoke about a petition he was promoting calling on our local bodies to hold a referendum before instigating the inclusion of Maori representation on our local council. I believe this petition is racism in its worst form, playing on peoples’ fears, despite the man’s assurance that he “...has Maori friends”. The hidden message is of course: ‘there are more of us than them, so of course the vote will go against it, but it will seem to be more than democratic in the process.’
There are some who will be unsure, fearing the promotion of a separatist movement/governance for Maori but that could not be further from the truth. Our whole system has not honoured the Treaty sufficiently and the inclusion of Maori voice/s on the Council is a wonderful way to really ‘hear’ from tangata whenua as partners with a ‘real’ voice - not an advisory committee - but actually being heard and having their vote counted.
There are others who will just be fearful of some perceived threat from Maori as taking over, but this too is a fallacy – the Maori representatives will be only a portion of the votes cast on any given subject – the important thing is that all matters discussed will have their input.
While I am the first to criticize our Council if I believe they have erred, I am now applauding them for this long overdue step towards inclusiveness and true adherence to their Treaty obligations.
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