Lower Hutt councillor takes issue with religious karakia at committee meeting
The inclusion of a heavily religious karakia at a Hutt City Council committee meeting has drawn criticism from a councillor.
Chris Milne has raised a point of order over the religious nature of a closing karakia included in the agenda for Wednesday evening's meeting of the district plan committee.
Committee chairwoman Lisa Bridson added both an opening and closing karakia to the meeting's agenda.
Milne said he took issue with Bridson including a prayer. Ahead of the meeting, he submitted a question to the committee asking, "in light of the fact that our community is multicultural, is it appropriate to insert a religious statement into the council agenda and, if so, can the chair of a council committee place a prayer for any faith on the agenda?"
* Former ACT staffer Chris Milne more green than blue
* Hutt authorities to continue chlorinating drinking water as investigations into E coli continue
* Big rates rise for Lower Hutt's poorest ratepayers
Bridson addressed the issue at the start of the meeting, before any karakia was said.
"Basically, the answer is yes. Even though there is a karakia, there is no obligation for anyone to say anything if they don't want to."
The closing karakia includes references to Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit.
"I'm unclear as to why we're putting it on the agenda," Milne said, "We're a multicultural society, we've got Hindus, we've got atheists."
Before the meeting, Milne had also been seeking translation for the karakia from council staff, saying none had been provided.
Bridson said she had included both karakia as the council had an obligation to adhere to Treaty of Waitangi principles and work in partnership with Maori.
"I thought it was appropriate to use the karakia."
She said the closing prayer was more religious than she would have preferred, but she chose it on the advice of the council's Maori liaison officer.