February 13, 2014
Maori role critical in Northland council merger
Northland-based Labour list MP Shane Jones says local government reform in the region won’t work without making allowance for Maori.
The Local Government Commission is consulting on a plan to merge the Northland Regional Council and Far North, Whangarei and Kaipara district councils into a single unitary council.
Mr Jones says it will need to overcome the disinterest or even hostility of many in the wider community towards things Maori.
"Unless the kaupapa Maori side of things is addressed in the north, it’s difficult to see how a reformed council will cut the mustard. Now Maori and iwi issues up there are so large, the Ngapuhi iwi settlement is going to gather momentum, and I fear that those sorts of narrow historic provincial attitudes that have defined the north for so long will cripple the north into the future," he says.
Mr Jones says there would probably be intense opposition to Maori wards, so a statutory board based on the Auckland Council may be the best way to represent Maori.
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