Creating Treaty-based Local Governance in New Zealand: Māori and Pākehā Views
This article explores the need for Treaty-based local governance, raised to national prominence by the 2014 outrage against New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd, who advocated a Māori ward for 2016. The Treaty of Waitangi influenced the creation of Māori seats in Parliament in the nineteenth century, and a provision for Māori seats in local councils in 2001. There has been limited uptake of the latter and Māori remain significantly under-represented. Innovations in governing arrangements have allowed non-elected Māori to take up advisory roles and, in some cases, decision-making roles. We argue that these do not ensure fair and effective Māori representation. Ad hoc and unpredictable structures have failed to deliver fair and effective representation to all New Zealanders. There is a pressing need for a New Zealand constitutional debate – a conversation among Māori and non-Māori – to devise a governance model that addresses the Treaty of Waitangi as New Zealand’s founding document.