Rejection of funding request blamed on 'anti-Maori views'
Claims of anti-Maori views emerged after a funding request for the Southern Initiative was denied.
The initiative was set up by the Auckland Council to develop better housing, job growth, skills development and environmental enhancement in South Auckland.
The group asked for funding of $1.8 million but received only $500,000 at Auckland Council's budget committee meeting last Thursday.
During the discussion Independent Maori Statutory Board chairman David Taipari said some local boards disapproved of the Southern Initiative because there "too many Maori are on the steering committee".
Taipari refused to say which of the six local boards on the steering group he was referring to.
"Local boards need to get to the table and participate in the steering group. My view is that the council is struggling to achieve Maori outcomes."
Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton was upset by Taipari's claim.
She says she does not support the Southern Initiative in its current form but that has nothing to do with it being a Maori-focused programme.
"Racism is such a low blow - I'm flabbergasted that that card has been played," she says.
She is reluctant to back the initiative because "it's like another level of governance has been created".
"I don't feel like we're getting real direction on the ground of what they are doing," Dalton says.
"It has been overlapping with some of the local board's responsibilities."
The initiative's general manager John McEnteer attended the meeting to ask for the extra funding which was 10 times the current budget of $177,000.
The proposal was rejected but Mayor Len Brown made a counter-offer of a $500,000 increase which was approved.
The council is working with government agencies, community groups and other organisations to help make the Southern Initiative happen.