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Monday, 25 March 2019 05:26 am

Councils fail to reflect Capital city’s ethnic diversity


PAUL EAGLE: Will promote Maori interest in local body politics.

By Greg Ford and Amie Hickland

FEW Maori or other ethnic minorities are making it on to elected councils in NZ, and Wellington City Council is no exception.

Only one of Wellington City Council’s elected representatives is not Pakeha/European.

Porirua  City Council has one Maori and four Samoan representatives.

Other Wellington region councils – including Upper Hutt City Council, Hutt City Council, and Kapiti Coast District Council also appear to have low ethnic representation.

The issue of scarce ethnic representation arose during the Auckland Super City debate about whether or not Maori should have their own seats.

ACT Leader Rodney Hide said he did not support reserving seats for Maori, as there was nothing stopping Maori from voting: “There’s nothing stopping Maori from standing.”
In an interview with TVNZ in August last year he said: “It’s not about that they’ve been denied their voice. What your concern is and my concern is ,too, is how do we actually provide better representation.”

This feeling is shared by some local body leaders in Wellington. Some feel more should be done to encourage Maori.

Ray Ahipene MercerWellington City’s sole Maori councillor, Ray Ahipene-Mercer (left)  says ethnicity should not matter and that it is all down to hard work.

“[I was] not elected because I was a Maori, or by luck.

“I was elected because of my high profile over many years. Just because they’ve (new candidates) put their hand up and have an ethnic name, doesn’t mean people will vote for them.”

His advice to ethnic minorities is to raise their profile and go and find the issues. He says they need to start now if they want to run in three years’ time.

Paul Eagle  (pictured at the top of the page) has a different view.

The candidate for Wellington’s southern ward and a Maori first-timer to local government, he would like to see the council working with local Maori organisations such as the Wellington Tenths and the Port Nicholson Block Trust to encourage them to be more involved.

“If I’m elected, I’ll help to promote reasons why Maori should be more interested.”

The region’s mayors have differing views on why representation is low.

Wayne_Guppy U HuttUpper Hutt’s Wayne Guppy (right) believes it is a nationwide problem and says things may have to be done differently in the future.

“We are not getting a big mix (of ethnicities). It’s a matter of engaging, and making them aware of what is going on.

“Across the country doing what we are doing is not working.”

He thinks it may be difficult for some ethnicities to mix with others: “Maori don’t tend to mix.”

Kerry PrendergastWellington City Council Mayor Kerry Prendergast (left) has a different view.

She says the single transferable voting system is used by the city council, which in the view of the promoters of the scheme allows representation of minority groups.

 “But in our experience it allows a few odd-balls to get onto Council, not minorities.”

David OgdenLower Hutt Mayor David Ogden,right,  says while  his council’s not perfect it does have some ethnic minorities represented.

“We have had a Deputy Mayor of the Te Atiawa, and Councillors who are of Indian and Chinese descent.”

 He says there is a Samoan Matai (leader), a Filipino and a number of young people standing for council.

Jenny Brash PorMayor for the City of Porirua Jenny Brash, left,  thinks more could certainly be done, but believes they celebrate diversity in the city.

“The council itself has four Samoan Councillors, and one Maori.  My Deputy Mayor is the only Samoan woman deputy in the country.”

The 2010 voting process

The local government election process started on September 17, when voting papers were delivered to householders. 

Voting closes on October 9, with the declaration of results between 11 and 20 October.

Local Government voting is only by post.

There are two types of voting

• Single Transferable Voting (STV) – voters are able to rank candidates in order of preference. With STV, as many or as few candidates can be ranked. To get elected, candidates need to reach a quota of the votes.

• First past the Post (FPP) – Under FPP, a tick is placed next to the name(s) of the candidate(s) that are being voted for. The candidate(s) with the most votes wins.

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  1. Most of us who attend Council meetings know who the “odd balls” are that our Mayor referred to. Would be interesting to hear who she classes in that category….probably the ones who have the cheek to vote against her……

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