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Hui calls for representation

BY KAREN KOTZE
Last updated 05:00 22/04/2009

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The Maori voices excluded by the National government’s supercity proposal spoke clearly and in unison at the Orakei marae.

April 15 was called an historic day for the strength in numbers shown by Maori leaders who met with single intent. The hui was held to discuss the way forward in the face of "an insult to Maori".

Their anger stemmed from the government’s intention to disregard the Royal Commission’s recommendation for three Maori seats among the supercity’s councillors.

"We are saddened. We thought the days where the government showed disregard to Maori were over," they said.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples spoke to a disgruntled crowd of 400.

He says Maori representation at the top table is crucial.

"This is not about votes or numbers. It is about ensuring a voice at that table," he said.

He stressed that this Maori voice still had much to teach.

"We thought we were being understood but for some, it appears the penny has not yet dropped. I don’t see the Treaty of Waitangi reflected anywhere in this decision."

Dr Sharples made it clear that the call for supercity representation was for all Maori.

However the declaration of intent released after the hui went further.

"Our concern extends past ourselves. We are concerned for all who believe they will not have solid, meaningful representation on this council body that appears to be more about business than people," they said.

The iwi who came together included Ngati Whatua o Orakei, Ngati Wai, Ngai Tai, Te Uri o Hau, Hauraki Maori Trust Board, Tainui Trust Board, Ngati Paoa, Kawerau a Maki, Ngati Tamaoho, Te Aki Tai and Ngati Te Ata. The urban Maori groups represented at the hui were the Waipareira Trust and the Manukau Urban Maori Authority.

Ngarimu Blair is on the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Trust board.

"We built this city," he said. "Our people gifted this land, fed the new settlers, gave them the choice of the best land, and we did this in the understanding – or so we thought – of this being a partnership. We are this land’s history, we want to remain a part of its future."

He says that funerals aside, the last time a hui of this size and significance was held must have been before the establishment of Auckland city.

"That the results of the Royal Commission were delivered and then disregarded sounds like Aotearoa/New Zealand of the past," the declaration says.

"While we are disheartened that does not mean we will be inactive. We are mightily determined to ensure this supercity proposal does not go through into law in its current form."

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A delegation of leaders will meet Prime Minister John Key in Wellington to voice their opposition.

On May 25, the anniversary of the Bastion Pt evictions, there will be a hikoi open to all Aucklanders.

Hikoi participants will gather at Takaparawhau, Bastion Pt, at 11am and walk to the Auckland Town Hall where they will voice their opposition to the government’s plans.

- East And Bays Courier

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