Tensions high at Maori ward petition meeting

Women in support of Maori wards at the meeting today. Image: MacKenzie Dyer.

Emotion ran high at a public meeting discussing the implementation of Maori wards in Tauranga this afternoon, with opposing views on racism and approaches that benefits Maori.

The meeting has been organised by a group called Concerned Citizens, which recently submitted a petition opposing the matter.

Hundreds of people both in favour and against the petition attended.

Protesters standing with signs and Maori flags filled the back of the TYPBC club room, behind rows of seats filled to the brim with other meeting attendees.

Speakers included former New Conservative party member Elliot Ikilei, and Hobson's pledge members Don Brash and Casey Costello.

They argued their views are in favour of equality and Maori bettering themselves.

Some of the remarks were visibly difficult for protesters to hear, with many shaking their heads, and tearing up during the speeches.

In his speech, Ikilei argued that everyone wants equality, and believes the implementation of Maori wards encourages segregation.

He told the crowd judging people based on the colour of their skin is 'nothing less than Nazi-style racism.”

Protesters sang a waiata together during his speech.

Brash covered a range of topics. When Te Tiriti o Waitangi was raised, the crowd began sharing their opinions, with both sides yelling at each other.

In response to expressions from protesters during her speech, Casey Costello judged Kaumatua leadership, as she felt they had not delivered on their promise of a peaceful protest. Her statement led to more objections.

Yelling and people leaving the meeting happened on both sides. This was the peak of the disruptions.

However, event organiser and Concerned Citizens member Margaret Murray-Benge condemned this behaviour, which is why she decided to keep her speech short rather than stating her case.

'We were promised that this would be peaceful.

'I wish you well but you do not listen.

'I have never seen such behaviour from women.”

Arguments for Maori Wards, and against the petition followed from iwi leader Buddy Mikaere and one other speaker.

Buddy says the fact that no other ward has gone through the same process or scrutiny proves that racism is fuelling the petition.

He says the views of Concerned Citizens and others who support the petition do not represent the views of Tauranga.

'The tides are turning.

'Your day is done.”

Tracey Carlton and Pip Brook peacefully protesting outside the meeting. Photo: Mackenzie Dyer.

Margaret Murray-Benge and Hobson's pledge member Don Brash spoke at the public meeting.

Buddy Mikaere addressing the crowd.

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Posted on 29-01-2021 17:31 | By Equality

Anyone can stand for council - regardless of colour or creed. A Maori candidate has the same chance as has a person from any race, being voted onto council. Members are voted on experience, ability and a whole lot of other attributes - NEVER on the colour of their skin. This would be racism. For one section of society to be granted special treatment above other races - THAT IS RACISM!


Posted on 29-01-2021 19:52 | By Kancho

Buddy said it was rude people came from outside of Tauranga to speak on what is a national issue. Well it certainly is rude to come to a meeting in the guise of peace and sing to prevent invited guests speaking . Confrontation was the plan which is rude too. Not sure this would happen on a marae where speaking is revered. Still maybe it's only men who speak on some marae?


Posted on 29-01-2021 19:56 | By Bruja

treatment based on race is racist. I don't give a flying who does it, it's racist. A person stands as a candidate for council (god pity them!!) and are voted in or out based on what they say they will bring to the position. THAT is democracy. There should be no place for anything more or less.

Maori Wards are fair representation not special treatment

Posted on 29-01-2021 20:48 | By Peter Dey

Equality, at present Pakeha voters get special treatment because they outnumber Maori voters 4 to 1 so they get to dominate the voting for Council. The result is that there has been no Maori Councillor in Tauranga for the past 20 years. In practice Councillors are actually elected on the basis of their race because Pakeha voters choose not to vote for Maori candidates. Maori candidates know this and choose not to enter in the first place. Our elections are biased in favour of Pakeha, and Maori Wards remove this anti-Maori bias.


Posted on 29-01-2021 21:54 | By Yadick

Maori wards are racist and discriminatory. Why were people standing at the back with Maori flags? Separatism straight away. NZ as a Nation does not stand under the Maori flag. We do not want and neither do we need a Council of us and them. What we want is a multi-cultural Council standing and advancing the city together as one. If you're Maori, Russian, Chinese, NZ European and you want a harmonious voice on Council then stand for Council. Wards separated by race is disharmony, disconnect, discontent and discrimination. Stand together as one. United we stand - divided we fall.

@ Equality

Posted on 29-01-2021 21:56 | By Yadick

Well said.

@ Equality

Posted on 29-01-2021 22:29 | By The Caveman

I totally agree with you. I don't normally vote with local body elections - BUT WILL BE ON THIS !!

Separatist rules again

Posted on 30-01-2021 08:22 | By crazyhorse

If you go onto a Marae and start squawking you'd be thrown off but these people come to a public meeting and drownd out anyone who does not take their separatist stance, this rubbish about Maori unable to get elected in Tauranga council is rubbish, look at Carterton Ron Marks and a transexual Maori Beyer got elected, this blows this rubbish out of the water, have a look who is running for council, who always has his finger in the racial divide, Buddy! maybe Tauranga and Maori don't want Buddy or people who think like him?

@ Peter Dey

Posted on 30-01-2021 09:06 | By Yadick

If Maori want a Maori Ward then quite obviously Maori ARE willing to stand for Council but as you say, they CHOOSE not to. Why do they choose not to, because they want an us and them situation not standing together. To say Pakeha choose not to vote for Maori A) If Maori aren't standing, how can we B) Your comment is racist C) A lot of us are against radicalism NOT Maori. In fact my SiL is Maori and BLOODY AWESOME.


Posted on 30-01-2021 10:01 | By Slim Shady

Democracy was never designed to be “fair” or equal. It was about majority rule. To get things done, that suit most people, most of the time. There are lots of people of all races that feel they are not represented and that policies are not what they would choose, both local and national. You either don’t vote at all or you choose the best of a bad lot. And make do. It’s far from perfect but that’s life. The current woke thinking is that we can perfect everything and make everything “fair”. By the way, lots of Maori stand for election to the beehive and seem to get lots of votes from Pakeha. People will vote for balanced people, regardless of race. Maybe not so for militants who are forever crying “it’s not fair”. It’s why Buddy never gets in.

The Treaty is separate partners but not separatism

Posted on 30-01-2021 10:24 | By Peter Dey

The Treaty of Waitangi is our founding document between two separate partners uniting together. Our present Council elections do not have Maori representation. That is unfair to Maori. Separate representation through Maori wards is not separatism just like the Treaty is not separatism. Maori Wards unite us by being fair to Maori. People who oppose Maori Wards are being divisive by supporting unfairness to Maori.

Slim Shady, democracy in NZ has to include the Treaty

Posted on 30-01-2021 11:35 | By Peter Dey

The Treaty of Waitangi is now a partnership agreement in NZ Law. Simple majority rule that gives political control to the Pakeha majority is in breach of the Treaty. Democracy in NZ has to more than simple majority rule. It has to encompass the Treaty.

Undemocratic & racist

Posted on 30-01-2021 12:50 | By crazyhorse

The TOW is not our founding document and certain members of Gov't brought in an act making Maori our treaty partners, that could be overturned any time by any gov't, the TOW was never meant to be a trough for treatyists to feed off the rest of New Zealanders or take away their rights, eg, democracy, because paint the picture any way you like if you 'push' undemocratically elected people onto local gov't that's what you're doing. what will be next, because with the separatists there is always a next.

Of course the treaty,

Posted on 30-01-2021 13:45 | By R. Bell

is our founding document. It is what enabled the British to govern NZ. It protected Maori rights. Any formal association between people is a partnership. The best way to radicalize any group is to deny them their right to peaceful participation in government, for Maori that means electoral wards if they choose.

@Peter Dey

Posted on 30-01-2021 14:09 | By morepork

I'm appalled by some of your misinformation and comments: 1. When electing a Council candidate, Race would be the LAST thing electors consider. You may be obsessed with it; most people are not. Slim Shady pointed out that Maori have no problems being elected to parliament, where non-Maori voted for them. 2. The TOW is NOT a partnership between "partners". It simply gives everyone the same rights as subjects of the British Crown. (The subsequent law, pushed through by a Labour Government, could be revoked any time.) A vote against the wards is NOT a vote against Maori; it is simply a vote for Democracy and unity. The world has changed. It's time Maori dropped the (Racism) chip on the shoulder, and the rest of us accepted equal rights for everybody and a level playing field. Nobody wants Apartheid.


Posted on 30-01-2021 14:18 | By Kancho

I agree with Slim Shady. Simple truth . As to the Treaty in law I don't see any part saying it supercedes or negates democracy and democratic process. Maori have done well in politics by being elected to government positions and in a vote proportional way and in coalition as per democratic process . At no time has a minority been equal under democracy. We are all equal as individuals but not more equal than others as in * Animal Farm"

@Slim Shady

Posted on 30-01-2021 14:21 | By morepork

In response to "Peter": (Are you taking medication...? :-)) This is the best post I have ever seen you make here. It's fair, reasoned and accurate. I know Buddy and, one-on-one, I have found him to be fair-minded and reasonable. Of course he is passionate for Maori, but I think that is understandable. I'm similarly passionate for everybody... (including Maori) :-) You are right that many people don't understand the nature of Democracy and expect it to be fair. You explained it very well. The whole point is, that if you lose, you don't become Terrorist and try to destroy the majority, you prepare a better case, persuade more people to it and try again. (Keep taking the tablets... maybe you SHOULD run for Council... :-))

All of the commenters,

Posted on 30-01-2021 16:09 | By R. Bell

on here totally ignore the overwhelming fact that Maori were treated abominably until the last few years. They rightfully no longer trust Pakeha to deliver justice in all its forms. One clear example being the continuing fight for representation at local level. They have it at national level, why not locally? Councilors vote for it, with an economy running at 70billion a year the need it. Why do many areas have rural wards, in order to give farmers etc a say, and no one objects to that. Stop playing silly games and admit, its inherent racism.

It's not racism but Pakeha voters prefer Pakeha candidates

Posted on 30-01-2021 16:57 | By Peter Dey

Pakeha voters outnumber Maori 4 to 1. We all prefer candidates that we can identify with. Like goes with like. Over the whole of NZ only 5% of local councilors are Maori. Either you believe that Maori are not capable enough which is racist, or Pakeha voters prefer Pakeha candidates because they are more like themselves which means that the voting system is biased and favours Pakeha. Plus any Maori who clearly supports a pro-Maori point of view will not get Pakeha votes. We have a biased system that favours Pakeha. Maori Wards remove the bias and Pakeha voters lose nothing. Councilors from two separate voting lists, Maori and Pakeha, sitting around one table is unity not separatism.


Posted on 30-01-2021 17:22 | By Slim Shady

So we’re/are women and LGBT. Maybe we should have seperate seats for them? Race is not the only difference in people. I could think of lots of others. Maybe we should have 10 ticks on a ballot paper. Gosh it’s getting tricky. I know the system isn’t fair because I’ve paid in way more than I’ve taken out - who is representing me? Nobody. Not fair. And I came from a poor neighbourhood and upbringing. Not fair. Blah blah blah. Using race these days to pin your failings on is just an excuse. Everyone has an opportunity. There are lots of pakeha who have made a mess of their opportunity. They can’t play the race card. They can whinge about all sorts, like housing or rents or dad was a drunk. Whatever. They’re all just excuses in an unfair world.

Who are Maori??

Posted on 30-01-2021 18:49 | By crazyhorse

I respect those that relate to being Maori but now all Maori have non-Maori blood in most cases far more than Maori, why the need for constant need/want for separatism and all it brings? Maori health, Maori education, and more separatist policies and handouts talked about every day, just look at the windfall Covid has brought Maori, if you are going to "give" Maori race-based seats on council you might as well just give admit that NZ has lost democracy and is embracing what the rest of the world abhors, separatism and apartheid! Also, the elephant in the room with all these race-based privileges isn't it time we had some proof those that identify with Maori actually are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted on 31-01-2021 08:22 | By R. Bell

for once you hit the nail on the head. Opportunity, now there's a word. Of course many people blow their chance at improvement, age old problem. The critical difference on this subject is that Maori are denied the opportunity to participate at councilor level simply because (as Peter so clearly states) Pakeha generally will not vote for Maori candidates. It is a simple fact summed up recently by WBOP councilor Margaret Murray Benge who stated publicly that Maori cannot be trusted. Think about that before engaging in more "what aboutism" Generalising about Maori in a negative way is racism, so how on earth can such a person represent Maori?


Posted on 31-01-2021 10:36 | By Slim Shady

I hit the nail on the head every time. Whether you like it or agree with it is irrelevant. To your point - as I said, there are lots of people, of all races, who are not represented by anyone. Me included. I choose the closest candidate to my views, or nobody at all. It never enters my head when I vote what the ethnicity of someone is. Surely, if you are voting for somebody based purely on race, then it is you that is racist, is it not?


Posted on 31-01-2021 12:30 | By R. Bell

my irrelevance is noted, somewhat strange that you engage with me though , but hey much is strange don't you think? You do however touch on an important point. If Maori are not well represented by Pakeha, as in the case of Ms Murray Benge or say John Banks or any other racist polly, then why do you object to them having representation by a person who better meets their needs? It costs you nothing, it takes nothing from you, it actually improves race relations, it gives Maori a better sense of purpose, it meets your treaty obligations and it is the right thing to do. Don't you think.

I agree with Slim

Posted on 31-01-2021 12:54 | By Kancho

Most everywhere is now multicultural in the world. Times were tough everywhere for many people including my ancestors. My parents and grandparents suffered terribly and many of my ancestors in my grandparents time didn't survive. As the quote goes " the past is a foreign country they do things differently" My understanding of history of that time tells me pre European and post European suffering and death was widespread within Maori. At this time my ancestors were not surviving either. However we are much advanced from that time. I am not sure if this gives anyone a sense of right or wrong or a sense of entitlement or superiority. We are all survivers and all getting on as best we can in a modern world that has far more possibilities than ever in history. A sum of all peoples and knowledge.


Posted on 31-01-2021 13:29 | By morepork

I've been thinking about the points raised here on both sides. Examples of Racism leading to mistrust by Maori; and the same with a non-Maori saying that "Maori can't be trusted". The FACT is that HUGE progress towards diversity has been made in the last 50 years. To say that white voters won't elect a Maori is not only untrue, it is unhelpful for both sides. If you present a Maori candidate who has a huge chip on their shoulder over past treatment, is resentful of white people, then, no, they won't get elected. But neither would a white candidate displaying similar attributes. I'm not suggesting there is no Racism; I'm saying it is a tiny percentage of what it was 50 years ago. Most of us are very happy with diversity and DON'T even think about the color of a candidate. Most of us are growing up...

Choose to ignore.

Posted on 31-01-2021 13:54 | By Accountable

Tauranga Maori choose to ignore the Maori people that have achieved in politics in NZ. Simon Bridges as leader of the National party, Nanaia Mahuta will be responsible for the Tauranga City Council from here into the distant future are two very good examples. Maori make up 24% of the present parliament and make up only 16% of the population. Those that have been elected have all had to do the hard yards to get there and there is no reason why a Maori with the right qualifications and personality can't be elected to Council through the present process. If they can come up with the right person surely they could beat the sub standard candidates such as those that we have had in the past! All they have to do is stop moaning and get off their backsides and put their best foot forward.


Posted on 31-01-2021 14:08 | By R. Bell

not surprised you agree with slim. No one can argue with your world view, however you ignore the special rights Maori have in NZ. Not sure you're correct about pre European Maori, the math simply doesn't add up . Cook estimated well over 100,000 that's up from a few hundred around 1285ad. Be that as it may, the fact remains that Maori are recognised by all governments since 1975 as being partners in the formation of NZ. That meets UN. requirements and that is critical to our trading future. A treaty is a treaty is a treaty, no matter how you try to fudge it.

r bell

Posted on 31-01-2021 15:52 | By dumbkof2

mr bell you are so right . maori have special rights here in nz that no one e;lse has why should that be so

Accountable and morepork,

Posted on 31-01-2021 15:57 | By R. Bell

You current posts show how unaware you both are of the state of Maori politics. Simon Bridges does not and never will represent Maori issues, he along with others has made that choice. Nanaia Mahuta is the member for Hauraki/ Waikato one of the seven Maori seats, she is steeped in Maori culture and is able to transcend both cultures. Whether she could have been elected in a general seat is doubtful but at this point mute. She is however a classic example of how much talent is wasted at local level. The present process does not allow for Maori of her ability to be elected. Ask Buddy in fact ask anyone who knows something about the real Maori world. But you won't. Will you?

Maori Ward referendums are out of date

Posted on 31-01-2021 16:42 | By Peter Dey

Hopefully Nanaia Mahuta will put a stop to referendums on Maori Wards. These referendums make absolutely no sense. All round NZ Local Councilors follow the Local Bodies Act and support The Treaty of Waitangi, Maori representation and therefore support Maori Wards. Pakeha voters then use referendums to block them, even though Maori Wards make absolutely no difference to Pakeha and take nothing from them at all. It is revealing that so many writers here are so strongly opposed to something that actually does not affect them at all. The misleading use of words like democracy, equality, separatism, apartheid, and division totally fails to justify the arguments made.

This will end badly!

Posted on 31-01-2021 16:49 | By crazyhorse

Separatism and racial favour for will only get worse with the 'part' Maori elite and a socialist government looking for a controllable group and votes using false history and propaganda to give society a rising tide of resentment, principally from young Maori conditioned into believing they are victims of white supremacy”.  This will end badly.   When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination!


Posted on 31-01-2021 17:18 | By Slim Shady

You name a couple of racists nobodies. One I’d never heard of. They’re not getting much support. They are irrelevant. You will always have racists even if you get your racist, separatist wards. Racists from all races. It’s just part of life I’m afraid. The key point is that there are no barriers to people forming parties, standing for election or voting for whoever they choose. We even have a PR electoral system and preferential voting at local level. There is no excuse. NO EXCUSE. It’s just an extension of lots of other examples where people, of all races, seek to make excuses for their own lethargy, disinterest, failings and prejudice. Throw it back on others.

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