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Greater Maori participation in council decision making to be considered

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A proposal to bring about more informed, inclusive, effective decision making is being considered by the Hastings District Council at its next full council meeting on March 28.

The proposal is for increased Māori participation in Hastings District Council decision making through the appointment of HDC: Māori Joint Committee tangata whenua representatives to the council’s four standing committees.

Such a move has been under consideration since 2017 when the HDC: Māori Joint Committee began debating their role after committee members earlier voted against the prospect of introducing Māori wards.

Many councils around the country have standing committees with appointed Māori members who can have voting rights, as is being suggested for Hastings, or attend meetings as observers.

The Marlborough District Council has an iwi representative on each of its standing committees who have full speaking and voting rights, and other councils such as Masterton District Council, Clutha District Council, Auckland City Council and Rotorua Lakes Council have Māori appointees with voting rights on some of their committees.

In Hawke’s Bay, Napier City Council’s resource consents hearing committee has one Māori appointee with full voting rights and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has two Māori appointees with full voting rights on its Environment Management Committee, Asset Management and Biosecurity Committee and Strategic Planning and Finance Committee.

The recommendation that the council will consider is that appropriately skilled non-elected tangata whenua members of the HDC-Māori Joint Committee be appointed, with voting rights, to each of the four standing committees: Community Development (Evelyn Ratima), Finance and Risk (Ngaio Tiuka), Strategy Planning and Partnerships (Tracee Te Huia) and Works and Services (Te Rangihau Gilbert)

They would not receive any extra remuneration for the additional roles, and the arrangements would remain in place until the 2019 election, to be reviewed after that time should the resulting governance request it.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she saw huge value in tangata whenua involvement in committee decision making. "Māori participation on all matters facing our community could bring a broader perspective to how we evaluate issues, and improve the quality of our decisions.

"I believe we have an opportunity to improve on our current model.

"Other councils across New Zealand have introduced similar models and have seen significant benefits resulting in better partnerships with iwi and greater community engagement."

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