On Hikoi & Treaty: Govt poised to announce seats?

by Jake Quinn

Today thousands of Aucklanders, of different colours, backgrounds and political leanings, are marching against the National-led government because it has failed to act—in respect of the Super City Council structure—“in good faith, fairly, reasonably, and honourably” with the people of Auckland and with Maori in particular.

Like it or not our ancestors signed the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty gave the Crown the right to make laws in return for the promise to do so, so as to acknowledge and protect the interest of Maori.

National and Act, against the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance and without consulting anyone, let alone Maori, chose not to include any Maori seats on the proposed Council. They did this, in principle, because they oppose reserved Maori representation on our governing bodies.

While many find their rhetoric rousing; ‘racially divided state’, ‘one person, one vote’, ‘apartheid’ and what have you, one cannot escape that New Zealand is based on a partnership going back to 1840, and that ignoring that inevitably leads to a ‘tyranny of the majority’: a situation where because we have one group that out numbers the rest, pretty much all our elected people would end up representing that group – and that is not democracy.

On a cold Sunday morning it was pleasing to see TVNZ Q+A “host” Paul Holmes well out numbered—by his entire panel—on the topic of Maori seats. Sandra Lee, Therese Arseneau and Mayor Tim Shadbolt all differed in their reasons (from ideological to pragmatic, respectively), but all supported Maori seats in Auckland.

The word from Espiner yesterday was that Key was feeling “very relaxed” about today’s Hikoi, which could only have meant one thing: A compromise, as this site predicted a month ago, is on the cards.

This morning’s news however, that Key said “today’s Hikoi … is unlikely to make a difference, is premature and the wrong forum to raise concerns” shifts the focus back onto the Maori Party. The subtext of Key’s words is not that Maori seats in Auckland are off, but that “the National—Maori Party governing relationship, not the Hikoi, is the context for advancing this discussion.”