Maori Party MP Marama Fox is ‘not surprised’ by the outcome from a recent New Plymouth District citizen initiated binding referendum where New Plymouth voters rejected a proposal to introduce a Maori Ward.
There was a low turnout of voters – only 45 percent, or around 25,300 people, though 56,000 were eligible to vote.
Of those who did vote, an overwhelmingly large number – 83 percent – were against a more formal representation of mana whenua on the council.
Only 4285 people voted in favour of a Māori Electoral Ward. New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd, who championed the proposal, said he was disappointed with the result. “But I accept it with peace and humbleness,” he said.
When told of the result Judd left his mayoral office and went for a drive by himself. He said he ended up walking through the bush at Lucy’s Gully so he could “have some space to internalise the result”. “Although this option was defeated, I am not defeated,” he said.
Judd, who still plans to stand for re-election in 2016, said he would now lodge a complaint against the Crown about the legislation he believed victimised Maori and was stuck in the 1840s.
He said the fact the council’s decision to have a Maori ward could be overturned by a referendum was unfair because no other ward decision could be forced to a binding poll.
“This is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation. It is the modern day version of something from 1840, a Crown law to control Maori.”
Meanwhile Maori Party MP Marama Fox said she wasn’t surprised. “I’m so incensed by the thoughtlessness of this outcome but not at all surprised” When asked if the Government can do more for the issue Fox said government disagree with their viewpoint.
“Yes the government could do more but they basically disagree with our view,” she said. “Only 50% of Māori are on the Māori roll If all Māori were on the roll we would have 15 Māori seats,” Fox admitted.
“If they were all Māori Party seats we would be a more powerful force that could do more for our Whanau but we continue to divide ourselves and put our trust back in a Victorian Westminster model by voting for the status quo.”
Former Youth Working Party member Michael Riley said “..ultimately, whenever Maori Wards are debated, the opposition seem to change the issue into another issue. For instance, yesterday I was debating on a Facebook post, and a young man brought up how Maori are provided more university scholarships. I don’t see how that’s got anything to do with providing a seat for Maori to be better engaged on the council?”
“What we must understand is that a large number of these [scholarships] are provided by local iwi, you could compare it to family paying for your university papers.”
The debate begun on social networking site Facebook after ACT Party candidate Robin Grieve questioned why New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd decided Maori should be engaged and consulted more. “Why not the same way they do non Maori?”
Insiders New Zealand Editor Bennett Morgan hit back. “I don’t know if you’ve realised from living in this country but Māori are over represented in crime statistics, they’re under-achieving in our state schools, their health and life expectancy is far below that of non-Māori – and you question why Andrew Judd has decided we need to consult and engage with them better? This isn’t about ‘special treatment’, this is about achieving equality.”
Former Tauranga City Council Councillor Murray Guy disagreed and said that oppurtunities are avaiable to Maori but Maori don’t contribute and participate.
“Opportunities are very much available to Maori, a legal requirement of the RMA and LGA2002 but enough is never enough, but as with, for example, voting [and] participating, many Maori choose not to contribute, participate.”
“We need to understand why this is so and focus our attention to address issues identified. Mostly I believe it comes back to a ingrained belief that we are not valued,” Guy said.
When asked the last time Mr Guy had attended a Marae, spoke with local iwi of Tauranga or attended kaumatua meetings, he had no comment.
Insiders New Zealand decided to choose the top “liked” comment of the debate, which was from Maori Party MP Marama Fox. It’s a long one but makes a strong point.
“You asked for an example this is but one of the glaringly obvious – no one blinked when they slaughtered the innocent at Parihaka for refusing to move off their ancestral lands – no one opposed the law at the time – suppression of rebellion act that took away Māori right to free speech – no one blinked when by law Māori language was outlawed in this country through the Native Schools legislation that further prevented Maori from being taught academic subjects but were by law only taught cleaning cooking labouring and nurse maiding for 100 years until 1969! No one blinked when the to tohunga suppression act prevented Maori from practicing their traditional customs and from even gathering together with their tohunga. If this sought to oppress and assimilate it worked but as much as these types of oppressive laws told Maori their savage language and culture were not good enough for modern society what did it tell the descendants of the oppressor? Did it suggest that theirs was the superior race? That they deserved the land that they killed, cheated, bought and stole. That they were somehow more deserving, more entitled. You don’t think those prejudiced paradigms don’t still exist when the disparities are glaringly obvious? What is the fear? That we might do to non Māori what has been done to us?
We love this land! We love this people despite what has been done to us the fear is irrational. We don’t seek to divide but to unify in a way that has not been extended to us! Where differences are embraced not whipped out of you! When will we grow up as a nation and learn from each other!! I have learned from non Maori NZ – when will we move into the young adulthood of our nation and practice some reciprocity?”