I was very honoured to be asked to speak in New Plymouth earlier this week by the Mayor of the city Andrew Judd. I was part of a debate team that argued for the introduction of Maori seats on councils and was opposed on the other side by a team led by Winston Peters.
Mayor Judd has been advocating for the introduction of Maori seats on his council and he has caused uproar in his city because of his stance. Sadly he has been subject to a lot of abuse and criticism.
However this hasn't dissuaded Mayor Judd in the slightest. And just a couple of weeks ago he called for not just a Maori seat but for councils to have a 50/50 split of Maori and Pakeha which he said. Truly reflected a partnership under the Treaty of Waitangi.
Mayor Judd is right and although he has no chance of securing this let alone a Maori seat his courage should be applauded and he is indeed a very principled man.
Mayor Judd is a pakeha and I have never seen or heard a pakeha mayor speak or give the type of pro Maori views that he has given. His stance will cost him his mayoralty in 2016 because there is no way that pakeha in New Plymouth will allow one of their own to have these views and hold such a senior office.
Most pakeha in New Plymouth unfortunately still hold the naive and stupid view that the majority of pakeha hold around the country, that Maori have exactly the same chances as pakeha in terms of getting on city and regional councils. Of course the facts tell us nothing could be further from the truth.
Maori have just over 5% representation on councils around the country and we have only one representative on the New Plymouth council. That person is league legend Howie Tamati who is a good man and strong representative for Maori, however he knows that it was his standing as a sportsman that got him through and he also knows that he is not seen in the same light as other Maori who put their names up in New Plymouth and around the country.
You see, stroppy Maori or Maori who are perceived to be advocates for their people have no chance of election. A pakeha majority for example would never vote for Tamati's brother in-law Te Ururoa Flavell for council or former Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia. And as for Mana Leader Hone Harawira, he would have no chance.
That's why Maori seats are so important. They allow Maori to act Maori and to be able to advocate for Maori.
The Royal Commission on Auckland governance recognised the special status of Maori as partners under the Treaty of Waitangi and recommended three special Maori seats on the Auckland Council. Sadly the recommendation was not implemented in the local Government Act in 2010 with the pakeha majority in government completely ignoring their own people's recommendations, for fear of a voter backlash.
So well done to Mayor Andrew Judd, he is the most principled pakeha politician who I have ever know and while he will be voted out eventually in 2016 his stance over the next two years will help immensely for the Maori fight for equity on councils across this country.
Willie Jackson and Alison Mau - weekdays from 12pm on RadioLIVE
source: data archive