This week’s hikoi highlights the denial of rights to Maori and all Aucklanders, says Shore mayor Andrew Williams.
About 6000 protesters, including Mr Williams and some North Shore city councillors, marched in Auckland to protest against the dumping of Maori seats proposed for the new supercity.
The hikoi was held in opposition to the government’s dumping of a Royal Commission recommendation for three Maori seats on a 23-member proposed Auckland Council.
Mr Williams says Maori are rightly annoyed that a Royal Commission recommendation has been so quickly dismissed without consultation with Maori.
The slogan for the hikoi – It’s not about race, it’s about rights – sums up much of what the supercity debate is all about, he says.
"The Royal Commission’s recommendations were tossed into the bin without any consultation and I can fully appreciate how betrayed the mana whenua are feeling," he says.
Mr Williams’ support of the hikoi is in contrast to his views in 2002 that as a council newcomer got him into hot water with a fellow councillor.
In 2002 Mr Williams was told his comments were "racist" by fellow councillor Tony Holman after questioning Maori involvement in North Shore City Council decision-making.
Mr Williams told a committee meeting he was fed up with too much attention being paid to the Treaty of Waitangi and on promoting Maori involvement.
"This is not going to help New Zealand get ahead and people are sick of it," he said, labelling supporters of special consultation processes for Maori "divisive lefties".
Now Mr Williams is standing up for Maori involvement in the council.
"This decade has seen a significant change in the way government – central and local – engages with Maori.
"We are seeing much more partnership and positive engagement so we are past the them-and-us stage to a more constructive phase," he says.
"Since becoming mayor, rather than just endlessly talking about process and treaty principles, I have strived to actively engage with local iwi to get better outcomes for Maori and for our city. The council is very supportive of this positive partnership approach."
Mr Williams says he joined the hikoi because he believes local communities have a right to decide their own local governance arrangements and not have them "forced down their throats by central government".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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