The truth about Maori wards

Tauranga Moana Te Arawa ki Takutai Partnership Forum Chair Reon Tuanau and WBOPDC Mayor Garry Webber. File photo.

A poll is currently underway to determine whether the Western Bay of Plenty District Council should introduce Maori wards – but are they necessary?

A WBOPDC spokesperson says Maori ward representatives could “better relate to the needs of Maori communities and provide the council with a greater understanding of Maori issues and concerns, and may encourage more Maori to participate in local government, by standing for office and voting at local elections”.

However, statistical evidence suggests separating Maori electors into their own wards does not improve Maori participation in the democratic process.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has had Maori constituencies since 2001. They presently have three – Kohi Maori, Mauao Maori, and Okurei Maori – in which electors on the Maori roll can vote in. But do they vote?

In the last three elections for BOPRC, turnout in the three Maori constituencies has been consistently lower than the overall turnout. In particular, the Mauao Maori constituency, which covers Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty, has had the lowest turnout – 26.6 per cent (2010), 20 per cent (2013) and 21.4 per cent (2016).

This compares with an overall turnout of 41-45 per cent over the same period.

In the 2017 Mauao Maori by-election, although six candidates contested the vacancy, turnout was even lower, at 16.9 per cent (although by-elections in general typically attract a lower turnout).

While it would appear there is a great appetite for becoming a councillor via the Maori ward route, the same cannot be said of voters within those wards – particularly those living in the Western Bay.

Even without Maori wards, though, the numbers tell us Maori candidates could quite easily make it on to the council.

For example, Bertie Ratu, who stood unsuccessfully in the Maketu-Te Puke Ward in 2016, could have been elected a councillor if every voter enrolled on the Maori roll in her ward had gone out and voted for her.

Likewise, unsuccessful mayoral candidate Kevin Tohiariki – who has spoken in support of Maori wards – would have won the mayoralty by a landslide if the estimated 5900 Maori electors in the district had come out in support of him.

But they didn’t. It’s almost as if Maori don’t all vote, and those who do vote for candidates not on the basis of skin colour, but on whether they think that person will make a good member of council.

In fact, it’s possible Maori – like Pakeha – don’t all think the same, and vote for a range of different candidates, for different reasons.

In any case, WBOPDC itself states that ‘all elected members are required to act in the best interests of the whole of the Western Bay of Plenty District, not just for their own ward’ – which, if true, would mean the current batch of councillors are already acting in the best interests of Maori, despite not being of Maori descent.

In other words, Maori wards are a solution looking for a problem that just isn’t there.

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Maori Wards are

Posted on 21-05-2018 15:35 | By R. Bell

Clearly jed you have been indoctrinated by the extremism of the far right. New Zealand have had Maori "wards" for 150 yrs, but not in local governance, only national governance. Four Maori seats now 7 Maori seats. You can not seriously be suggesting they have created separatism in N.Z. If you are, please give examples of it. Robin Bell.

jed, Animal Farm does not deal with different cultures

Posted on 21-05-2018 13:30 | By Peter Dey

jed, I appreciate the strength of your belief in the lessons of "Animal Farm" but George Orwell was simply not dealing with a society of two or more cultures. All around the world now nations contain many separate cultures who retain their separate identities but work in harmony with each other. It is not separatism to accept the existence of different cultures.

jed, Maori electorates and wards are not separatism

Posted on 21-05-2018 13:17 | By Peter Dey

jed, it seems that you downplay the fact that the Treaty of Waitangi is part of New Zealand law, and that we are a nation of two peoples. Respecting the right of the Maori community to have a separate identity is not separatism because they have no desire to have their own council. They want to be part of the council that we have. You are falsely accusing Maori of something that they are not asking for, to be completely separate. It is not separatism for Maori to keep a separate hold of their culture.

Dey & Bell...Separation is exactly what you propose!

Posted on 21-05-2018 11:06 | By jed

Either you have separatism or you don’t! Maori wards are separatism. You can’t have it both ways. Your core failure is that you either don’t understand human behaviour or don’t care about the end result of separatism.Making some people ’more equal’ perverts human behaviour and corrupts. A dystopian society will be the end game of your pathway. Have you read George Orwell? I recommend "Animal Farm".

No one is arguing for separation jed.

Posted on 20-05-2018 12:29 | By R. Bell

No one is arguing for communism, they are scare tactics that clearly work, when prejudice is an underlying factor. When Maori signed up to British protection it did not include enforced assimilation or the notion that you and others can determine their future, without their approval. If you want an example of your model look no further than the current Palestine conflict, where you have one of the most advanced, intelligent nations on earth killing unarmed demonstrators, who have been marginalised by a numerically superior paranoid state. Sound familiar. Robin Bell.

We need to do what is best for all of NZ

Posted on 20-05-2018 10:26 | By jed

I understand your intentions are probably good, but history shows that well intentioned ideas can produce an opposite result.e.g, in theory communism is the perfect political system,yet in human hands it is the most corrupt. Using race as a determinant for political power will cause further divisiveness and hurt to maori. Unelected political appointments will corrupt the very people in power. New Zealand will be worse off for everyone albeit a small group of unaccountable and corrupt elite. Are you really in favour of such an outcome? It is inevitable in the separatist state for which you argue.

Murray Guy, you have been misled about the Treaty

Posted on 19-05-2018 09:41 | By Peter Dey

The idea that the Treaty of Waitangi is being constantly changed is nonsense. The Waitangi Tribunal has the authority by law to interpret the Treaty of Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi Act Section 5 (2)). The Tribunal approved an official translation by Sir Hugh Kawharu in 1989, which no fluent Maori speaker has disputed. Any translation not consistent with this official translation is misinformation put out by people who are not fluent Maori speakers, and who sadly wish to undermine respect for the Treaty.

And yet Murray,

Posted on 18-05-2018 17:29 | By R. Bell

the "scriptures" are supposedly the basis of western culture. Quoting out of context is your particular dis- respect. Perhaps you can answer one question, I repeat " how is it possible to differentiate between prejudice and valid reasoning when voting for or against Maori wards? Simple question. Murray. Robin Bell.

Oh for a 'new dey'.

Posted on 18-05-2018 13:45 | By Murray.Guy

Peter Dey writes, ’We started with the Treaty and that can NOT now be changed. Treating Maori with special respect is what we are, not patronizing or condescending.’ ... The Treaty is being constantly ’changed’. With each passing ’dey’, an apparently more enlightened soul knows better, can see in to the minds of those past away some 150 years and more back. Treaty interpretation gets the same treatment as the ’scriptures’, constantly reinvented to reflect the age in which it is being read, applied and or abused. Here’s a thought, "How about we treat EVERYONE with ’special respect’?"

jed, you seem to misunderstand the Treaty

Posted on 17-05-2018 17:11 | By Peter Dey

jed, maybe you did not grow up in NZ, but it has only been in the past 30 years that the Treaty has been properly honoured. You write as though we should be a nation of just one culture, which is what governments behaved like up until about 30 years ago. We are now clearly a nation of two peoples politically. We started with the Treaty and that can not now be changed. Treating Maori with special respect is what we are, not patronising or condescending.

Jed, not condescending oor divisive, just respectful

Posted on 17-05-2018 16:37 | By Peter Dey

Jed, you seem to be telling us that if Maori worked hard like you that we would all be equally well off, which means that you think that they are badly off because they are not good enough, or inferior. That is you being patronising. Honouring the Treaty is simply showing respect, not a hand-out. It is only divisive to people who do not want to honour the Treaty and whinge about it.

Captain Sensible, all races have individuals with inflated ideas

Posted on 17-05-2018 12:37 | By Peter Dey

Captain Sensible, your claim that Maori have an unjustified greed and sense of entitlement is not supported by any credible evidence. All races have individuals with an unjustified sense of entitlement. You have an unjustified sense of entitlement because you do not accept that your own position of privilege is just your good luck, not something you achieved yourself.

Dey and bell have destructive views

Posted on 17-05-2018 12:25 | By jed

Bell and Dey seem to think maori are incapable of achieving without special treatment. You two are condescending and disrespectful to the maori race and of their capabilities!! Animal farm would be a great book for you two to read. About how ’equality’ can be warped and manipulated to suit a certain group. This is exactly what you two do. And, it only leads to evil people doing evil things.

Crazyhorse, look in the mirror for entitlement

Posted on 16-05-2018 14:14 | By Peter Dey

Crazyhorse, you believe that Maori are getting undeserved privilege, when in fact as a nation we are still trying to correct the injustices of the past . You seem to have an unjustified feeling of entitlement that your privileged position is something that you earned on merit, when clearly you have just been hugely fortunate.

Murray Guy, Maori are not being treated with respect

Posted on 16-05-2018 14:02 | By Peter Dey

Maori have made a simple request, well justified, to have Maori wards. Maori wards would have absolutely no effect on anybody else. Yet you align yourself with Crazyhorse and say that Maori do not know what is good for them, or else you align yourself with widespread ignorance from people who vote against Maori wards because they think that Maori would be getting something for nothing that they cannot have. Thank goodness our national politicians have more wisdom, and racial tolerance is growing.

Honestly Murray I'm grateful,

Posted on 16-05-2018 12:53 | By R. Bell

for your response, a little disappointed you chose to answer only one question, but hey! disappointment is no stranger when I’m in the minority on here. That you, an aspiring representative can duck shovel the issue is not surprising, but very disappointing. The issue is, Do Maori have the right to elected seats on local bodies.? The answer is YES government legislation allows it and recommends it. However in this case and only this case, the majority can overrule the democratically elected representatives who voted 9-3 in favour. Maori are left once again with no representation at the decision making level. Meaningful consultation is not enough Murray, quite simply recent and long term history shows that " integrity based" decisions are rare if not impossible when prejudice, greed and self interest raise their ugly head. . Robin Bell.

A good start would be 'honestly' Mr Bell.

Posted on 16-05-2018 10:12 | By Murray.Guy

R Bell contributes, "How can democracy flourish if one of those races is denied access to the representative process by those who control the process. Any answers, anyone." ... I hesitate to respond as it may provoke ’even more’ of the same from R Bell, but this constant stream of misinformation serves ONLY to undermine MANY integrity based efforts and desires to enhance ’meaningful’ consultation and participation in our local body by Maori and non-maori. Opportunities abound to participate, more if Maori. Mr Bell, like myself, likely on the home stretch and it’s hard to change the mindset of a life time - BUT PLEASE, give some thought to identifying issues and options and focusing on ’integrity based’ processes and outcomes. As Cr. Baldock and like-minded folk are rapidly finding out, increasingly, many in the community are saying, "enough is enough, skip the bull, treat us all with respect.

How is it possible,

Posted on 15-05-2018 17:07 | By R. Bell

to differentiate between prejudice and valid reasoning, when asking people to vote for or against Maori wards? How can the term "race based" be a contentious point when determining a vote for or against, when New Zealand is a nation formed by two races? How can democracy flourish if one of those races is denied access to the representative process by those who control the process. Any answers, anyone. Ryan would be good. Even with the advantage of unlimited words. Robin Bell.

You may well have cringing friends nzer,

Posted on 15-05-2018 16:45 | By R. Bell

but I make no excuses, only reasons. One day you will understand the difference , although you record in that area is not good. My " whinging" has nothing to do with Maori, it is aimed at disgusting prejudice and lack of empathy shown by you and your friends, including the Maori ones, if they exist, have my doubts on that. Lies come very easy when hiding under the hood of silly names. Robin Bell.


Posted on 15-05-2018 15:57 | By NZer

Jed got the same education that every child gets. All children go to school regardless of ethnicity. Clearly Jed paid attention at school. Hardly privilege when everyone gets the same. Robin your excuses why Maori perform badly are just that. Your constant whinging does nothing for Maori. I have friends that are Maori and they cringe when your name is mentioned. You embarrass them.


Posted on 15-05-2018 10:27 | By Captain Sensible

Just ask maori to get over their inflated sense of greed and entitlement. It is embarrassing to other maori and to NZ. Preferential treatment based on skin colour is despicable. But the only MO they know is to attack the people who tell the truth with snarls of "racist". Hilarious!


Posted on 14-05-2018 16:23 | By Told you

We know the wants of the Maori they keep telling us all the time.They want us to believe that they are underprivileged and deprived, for a start their economy is worth over $50 Billion so they are not short of money,they just need to distribute better.

Sorry jed but that is absolute rubbish,

Posted on 14-05-2018 15:42 | By R. Bell

yet typical of the paternalistic mindset of many. No one is asking you or anyone else to give " money or political power" to Maori. Your privilege allowed you to be educated and gain the proceeds from that. Any disrespect you may have for Maori stems from the very fact that for generations they were denied that same privileges. Their language banned, unable to raise money for housing unable to sell multiple owned land, constantly having to witness their land being stolen for your benefit. It has made them and you what you are.But the good news jed, is that those days are over, almost. Nothing to do with academics, everything to do with the march of justice and the final realisation that you cannot force Maori or any other minority to assimilate against their will. Robin Bell.

@ R.Bell

Posted on 14-05-2018 13:08 | By jed

You do not understand either and your way leads to misery and despair for maori. I received no money from my parents but the most important thing they bestowed on me was a work ethic. I gained an education, got a job, saved money , bought a house. When you constantly give money and political power to maori for free and without accountability, the only outcome will be loss of pride, disrespect from non-maori, and general hopelessness. You are almost mandating for communist style politics --- and it will never work. The sad thing is, that progressive academics pushing for some futile recognition will never understand this -- and the very people who might be trying to life maori from poverty are the ones that cause them to remain in poverty.

Short memories or simple denial, groutby.

Posted on 14-05-2018 09:20 | By R. Bell

You are correct in one thing, I certainly will write to the death on injustice aimed at minorities. You wrongly use the word separation as usual. You are again wrong in assuming Maori do not want representation by Maori for Maori as a part of the greater governance of N.Z. The advancement you talk of was won, not by administrations "acting in the best interests"of Maori as claimed by Ryan Wood, but by the much vilified activism of the last few decades. Those activists fed the fire of discrimination, no doubt jed, but discrimination is the abomination, not the fight for justice. Your reference to "race based political power" is equally misguided N.Z is and always has been a partnership of races, with Maori holding a special, indisputable place in all things, including politics, local and central. Robin Bell.

What do you expect?

Posted on 13-05-2018 19:27 | By Eddie Munster

What do you expect from Ryan Wood who represents the time warp that is Tauranga. The same "journalist" who recently described the extremely racist Kevin Bloody Wilson as an outrageously funny singer song writer.

All about the money!!

Posted on 13-05-2018 19:23 | By jed

People who advocate for special Maori rights are blind to the fact that this simply feeds the fires of discrimination against maori. It is a mistaken belief to think you can implement racially based political power without generating resentment against the very people you are trying to help. And, that hidden resentment will manifest in a number of ways against maori which means they will continue to sit at the bottom of the socio economic heap. People like Dey just do not understand human nature.

Maori themselves......

Posted on 13-05-2018 19:06 | By groutby realise that it separation is not necessary for advancement, many who identify as Maori are electing to stand their own ground, believe in themselves and more importantly, SHOULD.... representation equally is tantamount to good governance, and representation unelected (by all) is simply not democracy as we are given to believe we live in. Robin, you will ’write to the death’ about your minority beliefs (and I respect that)...but there must and will come a time whereby you need to accept we are all equal under one flag..and will be much stronger internationally for it......

No Thanks

Posted on 13-05-2018 16:18 | By roseh

Sure we don’t need them They can stand in any ward Just like everyone else and see how they go

Your bias is still evident Ryan.

Posted on 13-05-2018 11:36 | By R. Bell

Issues are what decide turnout. The recent by-election in Tauranga proves that, with a turnout of 30%, similar to figures you quote for Maori wards. To claim that Bertie Ratu and Kevin Tohiariki would have won with a 100% turnout is disingenuous. There has never been a 100% turnout in any election. Like many you refuse to understand not only the need for Maori participation but the need for Maori to feel that need and build the enthusiasm to serve. Your final sentence proves the point that your bias blinds you to the real need for Maori participation. Wake up, it’s never to late. Robin Bell.

There we have it

Posted on 13-05-2018 11:21 | By NZer

Dey and Bell. It is now official. Maori wards are not needed. But hey keep on whinging....

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