An Auckland councillor has denounced as "racist" an attempt to exclude Maori Statutory Board representatives from council budget decisions.
The comments came as the council this morning discussed whether budget decisions should be made by the Strategy and Finance Committee, which has Maori representatives, or by the governing body, which does not.
A decision made last week would have seen the committee, and therefore Maori, lose voting rights over the decision.
Mayor Len Brown said the move would be "probably illegal" and subverted the role of the Maori Statutory Board. He said the council needed to stand by the decision-making processes set up at its inception.
"We should stay with those commitments unless there's a huge, significant, good legal reason why we should not."
Councillor Cathy Casey, who went on the hikoi to support Maori seats, said this discussion was about the exclusion of Maori.
She said some councillors "did not want Maori to have a voice on this council".
"I think this is racism, pure and simple."
This comment sparked angry responses from councillors Dick Quax and Cameron Brewer, who demanded an apology or retraction.
Casey admitted the term "racism" was wrong.
Councillor Christine Fletcher said her initial support for the budget decisions to stay with the governing body had nothing to do with the Maori Statutory Board.
She said she raised it because the Strategy and Finance Committee should only be making recommendations, and the council should make the final decision.
The motion was passed 14 to 6 to keep budget decisions at the level of the committee.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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