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Challenges on the path to Treaty-based Local Government relationships


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In this article I examine some of the challenges for Māori and Local Government on the path to Treaty-based Local Government relationships. I suggest significant challenges exist in three core areas. The first relates to the attitudes towards the ideas of Treaty-based Local Government and evident in common terminology which has a narrow focus on the identity of Māori as ‘representatives' rather than ‘Treaty partners’. The second area of challenge is in having Māori wards/constituencies established which, when they are established, are symbolically the beginnings of an acknowledgment of Treaty obligations and relationships. The third challenge is the lack of good data which limits understandings of Māori involvement in Local Government. In the second part of the article I ask whether any specific challenges can be seen that might impact on Treaty-based relationships in regard to Māori involvement as candidates and voters in Local Government elections.
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Challenges on the path to Treaty-based Local
Government relationships
Maria Bargh
To cite this article: Maria Bargh (2020): Challenges on the path to Treaty-based Local
Government relationships, Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online
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Challenges on the path to Treaty-based Local Government
Maria Bargh
Te Kawa a Māui, Māori Studies, Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
In this article I examine some of the challenges for Māori and Local
Government on the path to Treaty-based Local Government
relationships. I suggest signicant challenges exist in three core
areas. The rst relates to the attitudes towards the ideas of Treaty-
based Local Government and evident in common terminology
which has a narrow focus on the identity of Māori as
representativesrather than Treaty partners. The second area of
challenge is in having Māori wards/constituencies established
which, when they are established, are symbolically the beginnings
of an acknowledgment of Treaty obligations and relationships.
The third challenge is the lack of good data which limits
understandings of Māori involvement in Local Government. In the
second part of the article I ask whether any specic challenges
can be seen that might impact on Treaty-based relationships in
regard to Māori involvement as candidates and voters in Local
Government elections.
Received 13 January 2020
Accepted 8 April 2020
New Zealand; Tiriti o
Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi;
Māori; Local Government;
Treaty-based relationships
Since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840 no complete consensus has been reached
as to what constitute Treaty-based relationships in general. The principles of the Te Tiriti o
Waitangi that have evolved from the Waitangi Tribunal, government policy and the
Courts have guided some of the thinking about the need for Treaty-based relationships
to include partnership, active protection and reciprocity (Wheen and Hayward 2012).
Māori scholars have suggested that Treaty relationships should be co-authoured by
Treaty partners and include recognition of Māori legal traditions as a rst law(Jones
2016, p. 153). Scholars from other jurisdictions have argued Treaty relationships are
those where the Indigenous nation is recognized as being self-determining and engages
with the state in a nation-to nation relationship(Jones 2016, pp. 5859; Pictou 2015).
Taking those elements as a basis it seems unlikely that any fully Treaty-based local govern-
ment relationships operate yet in New Zealand.
In this article I examine some of the challenges for Māori and Local Government on the
path to Treaty-based Local Government relationships. I suggest signicant challenges exist
in three core areas. The rst relates to the attitudes towards the ideas of Treaty-based Local
Government and evident in common terminology which has a narrow focus on the
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License
(, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
CONTACT Maria Bargh
identity of Māori as representativesrather than Treaty partners. The second area of
challenge is in having Māori wards/constituencies established which, when they are estab-
lished, are symbolically the beginnings of an acknowledgment of Treaty obligations and
relationships. The third challenge is the lack of good data which limits understandings
of Māori involvement in Local Government.
In the second part of the article I ask whether any specic challenges can be seen that
might impact on Treaty-based relationships in regard to Māori involvement as candidates
and voters in Local Government elections. I examine the 2019 election results, in particu-
lar in the Māori wards and constituencies and consider any signicant insights which
might be drawn comparing those results with previous elections.
Māori voter turnout tends to be lower than non-Māori, however that may not provide
a complete picture of Māori participation. In the nal part of the article I outline some
ways Māori are participating and might be seen to be enactingTreaty-based Local Gov-
ernment relationships by working parallel and with Local Government in Partnership
Attitudes towards Treaty-based Local Government relationships
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) and the New Zealand Society of Local Govern-
ment Managers (SOLGM) created a joint Vote 2019campaign in 2019 to promote the
Local Government elections. We want to get more Kiwis involved(LGNZ 2019) their
website stated. When LGNZ and the SOLGM devised their Vote 2019 campaign, they
no doubt presumed that using the term Kiwiswould be universally understood and rela-
tively neutral for New Zealanders. Similarly, in the study of local government elections,
many would assume that examining Māori representationmight be broadly understood
and relatively neutral. But are these terms neutral? In their work on diverse economies, J.K.
Gibson-Graham argue that scholars must always be attentive to whether the eects of our
representations are opening up spaces for change and transformation or not(Gibson-
Graham and Dombroski 2020, p. 6). Like Gibson-Graham and Dombroski, I suggest ter-
minology has a performative eectand the study of Māori and local government has real
worldeects (Gibson-Graham 2017).
In considering the cultural, historical baggage Māori representationmight arrive with
it is useful to begin by asking what is assumed and implied by the concept of Māori rep-
resentation? Firstly it is implicit in the very notion of Māori representation that Māori
have representation as part of a broader political system. With most councils not
having Māori representation, the second inference is that it is not the normwithin
Local government. This leads to a third assumption that if it is not a normalpart of
local government politics then perhaps it is not a priority for data to be collected about
all aspects of Māori representation, such as Māori voters, Māori non-resident ratepayers,
Māori donations and campaign expenses, Māori ward and constituency turnout, and
turnout of people of Māori descent on the general roll. Finally the organised and concerted
campaigns by anti-Māori and anti-diversity groups lead those without other information
to question whether Māori representation is needed or if it is democratic. Such a negative
and contested starting place for a discussion places academics and researchers who seek to
explore deeper analyses of Tiriti based local government relationships in either a defensive
or dicult situation.
What if the study began from a dierent starting place- would dierent questions,
answers and politics emerge? What might be assumed by beginning with the concept of
Tiriti based local government relationship? This starting point assumes that Aotearoa
New Zealands democracy is unique to this place and that systems of government, law,
and public policy are never neutral- they are imbued with history and culture (Bargh
and Jones 2020). It also foregrounds and normalises Te Tiriti o Waitangi as having estab-
lished a framework for political relationships and partnership between the Crown and
Māori. This acts as a reminder that both parties of Te Tiriti have obligations: including
partnership, active protection, reciprocity. It also acts as a reminder that while current
constitutional arrangements do not reect this unique political and legal form of democ-
racy, they should. Ensuring the collection of data and information and equal attention is
paid to both parties to Te Tiriti is important to demonstrate the partnership is being taken
seriously and respected in good faith.
In their research on Creating Treaty based local governance in New ZealandWebster
and Cheyne surveyed Māori leaders and non-Māori elected council representatives
regarding their understanding, awareness and practice of local governance and sustain-
ability(Webster and Cheyne 2017, p. 154) They found that, for 80% of non-Māori
elected members providing opportunities for Māori to contribute to local government
was of least importance(p. 159) in the range of their tasks. Despite the low priority
ranking the elected members gave providing Māori opportunitiesthe majority of respon-
dents believed their local authority was moderately or highly eective in this task, an
assessment not supported by research undertaken with Māori over the same period
(Webster and Cheyne 2017, p. 159). Webster and Cheyne argue that
the consistently low ranking given to opportunities for Māori emphasised, generally, the low
priority of Te Tiriti o Waitangi among non-Māori elected members Only a new Treaty-
based system of local government that incorporated distinctively Māori ways of governance
would protect the rights of New Zealand Māori to fair and eective representation that stem
from the Treaty of Waitangi. (Webster and Cheyne 2017, p. 159)
Creation of Māori wards and constituencies as steps towards Treaty-based
Local Government relationships
One of the elements on the path towards both fair and eective representation and
Treaty-based Local Government relationships is the creation of Māori wards/constitu-
encies. While it would be dicult to argue that Māori wards/constituencies themselves
constitute recognition of Māori legal and political traditions or the self-determination
of Māori, they do acknowledge Māori have a specic and unique role to play in
local government decision-making. Councils are required to review their representation
arrangements at least once every six years under the Local Electoral Act. A key element
for councils to consider is whether they have fair and eective representation for indi-
viduals and communities(Part 1 A, 19). Webster and Cheyne argue that fair and
eectiveshould include upholding Treaty of Waitangi obligations (Webster and
Cheyne 2017).
In 2017 as part of their representation reviews, ve councils voted in favour of establish-
ing Māori wards in their areas. In 2018 all ve of those council decisions were overturned
by polls forced by 5% of electors (see Table 1). In the case of the Kaikoura District Council,
the poll was forced by approximately 100 people and cost the council $15,000 (Kaikoura
District Council 2017).
Anti-diversity group Hobsons Pledge, campaigned actively in each area seeking peti-
tion signatories to force the polls and then celebrated the opposition and racism demon-
strated towards Māori that accompanied their activities (Rankin 2018). Those areas where
Māori wards have been rejected by public poll must now wait until after the 2022 elections
before the matter of creating Māori wards can be considered again.
Even in places where Māori constituencies have already been established, organised anti-
Māori campaigns continue to threaten their existence. The Waikato Regional Council voted
in 2011 to establish two Māori constituencies for the 2013 election (Waikato Regional
Council 2011). Waikato Regional Council had to reconrm the Māori Constituencies in
2017 when three councillors moved a motion calling for a poll of electors to determine if
the constituencies should be abolished (Waikato Regional Council 2017). In October
2017 a vote within the Waikato Regional Council was recorded as seven to three in
favour of retaining the constituencies (Waikato Regional Council 2017).
Anti-Treaty comments made by Tauranga Councillor Andrew Hollis shortly after his
election in 2019 have created further racial tension and division about Te Tiriti based
local government relationships. Race Relations Conciliator Meng Foon suggested Hollis
should resign as his comments were inappropriate, but this has not occurred (Shand
There have been attempts by politicians to amend legislation to better protect Māori
rights. In 2017 Green Party MP Marama Davidson attempted to introduce an amendment
to ensure that council decisions could no longer be overturned by a poll of 5% of electors.
The Local Electoral (Equitable Process for Establishing Māori Wards and Māori Consti-
tuencies) Amendment Bill was however negatived on its First Reading (New Zealand Par-
liament 2017).
In October 2019 Rino Tirikatene, MP for Te Tai Tonga introduced the Canterbury
Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill which was negatived on its First
reading (New Zealand Parliament 2019). It came after Ngai Tahu already had two repre-
sentatives as central government appointed commissioners on Environment Canterbury
from 2010 until 2019 (Human Rights Commission 2010;Ngāi Tahu 2016).
In December 2019 Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta announced that she
would not review the mechanism in the Local Electoral Act which enables the poll of 5% of
Table 1. Public polls on council decisions to create Māori wards.
Public Poll
Turnout 2018
% For Māori
% Against
Māori Ward Notes
Kaikoura District Council
45.38%, (1251
19.66% 80.10% In 2017 KDC voted unanimously to create a
Māori ward (KDC n.d.).
Western Bay of Plenty
District Council (WBoPDC)
21.62% 78.09% In 2017 WBoPDC voted by majority to
establish a Māori ward (WBoPDC 2018a,
Whakatane District Council
44% (10,805
44.33% 55.43% In 2017 WDC voted in favour of establishing a
Māori ward (WDC 2017,2018).
Palmerston North City
Council (PNCC)
37.36% (21,263
30.99% 68.76% In 2017 the PNCC voted to establish a Māori
ward (PNCC 2018).
Manawatu District Council
44.47% (9434
22.76% 77.04% In 2017 the MDC voted to establish a Māori
ward (MDC n.d.).
voters to overturn council decisions, despite previous commitments to a review (Fonseka
2019). This element of the Local Electoral Act has been invoked numerous times over the
past decade and enabled the reversing of Council decisions. Former mayor of New Ply-
mouth, Andrew Judd, has been one of several commentators to argue that this mechanism
is racially discriminatory as it only applies to Council decisions related to one ethnic group
(Māori) and is not applicable to other Council decisions on for example the establishment
of rural wards (McCulloch 2018; Radio New Zealand 2018).
What do the campaigns of active opposition to Māori representation indicate to Māori?
Perhaps that many people in the community and in parliament, do not understand the
Treaty of Waitangi and Crown obligations and do not support Tiriti based Local govern-
ment relationships and indeed will spend resources on actively undermining Māori rights.
Challenges for Māori candidates and voters that might impact Treaty-
based relationships
In regard to Māori involvement as candidates and voters in Local Government elections
are there any specic challenges that might impact on Treaty-based relationships? The
2019 election results, in particular, the Māori wards and constituencies will now be
There are a number of challenges in analysing the election results in Māori wards and
constituencies. There is data available, unlike for Māori enrolled in general wards/consti-
tuencies but is incomplete and contains some inconsistencies. Results of various kinds are
available from the Department of Internal Aairs Statistics and Reports, Local Govern-
ment New Zealand, Council pre-election reports, post-election candidate surveys, election
service companies and in the media. However, if proof was ever needed that statistics are
not a straightforward, objective snapshot of an underlying reality(Walters and Andersen
2013, p. 8) then this is it. In some places election results are missing, in some places, they
are presented as total votes castand in other places total valid voteswith, blank and
informal votes separated. In some places, turnout data is a percentage of total votes
issued while in other places a percentage of the total number of eligible electors. In
some data sets, the elected candidates are identied but not the votes received by each
winning candidate or contenders.
A further limitation on gathering data on Māori wards/constituencies is there are only
three councils with wards and constituencies created in dierent years and one with a
multi-member ward.
Three of the eight Māori wards reappointed candidates without elections as they stood
unopposed. The NgāHau e Wha and Tai ki Uta (Waikato Regional Council) and Ōkurei
(Bay of Plenty Regional Council) constituencies were all uncontested. In NgāHau e Wha
and Tai Ki Uta the incumbent councillors were re-appointed while in Ōkurei the sole can-
didate was elected unopposed. NgāHau e Wha councillor, Tipa Mahuta has held the seat
since its establishment in 2013.
Having candidates elected unopposed raises three key issues for further analysis. Firstly
there is research from the United States which suggests that state legislators there who
were elected unopposed were less active in lawmaking than their counterparts who
endured competitive elections (Konisky and Ueda 2011). Secondly, some have argued
that not having the opportunity to vote eectively removes a voters democratic right
(Electoral Reform Society 2019). In England where uncontested elections are common,
scholars suggest that a change in electoral system from First-Past the Post to Single Trans-
ferable Vote (STV) would encourage greater competition. In New Zealand, for the 11
councils that use STV there were no unopposed mayoral or Council appointments
(Department of Internal Aairs n.d.). This may be dierent for District Health Boards
or Local Board elections. Thirdly, for academics, unopposed elections mean that there
is no data at all about Māori voter turnout in those places. As Councils and the Local Gov-
ernment Commission fail to collect ethnicity data, turnout in the Māori wards and con-
stituencies is the only rudimentary indicator available for Māori voter turnout at a local
Insights from 2019 election results
Possibly the only signicant observation to be made about results in Māori wards and con-
stituencies is that voter turnout does not appear to be declining as it is in general wards
and constituencies. Voter turnout in local government elections has been declining for
the last 25 years (Department of Internal Aairs 2013). Turnout is lower in Māori
wards and constituencies than general ones and it continues to uctuate but not
visibly trending downwards. If Local Government could collect ethnicity data on voters
in general wards and constituencies it would be much easier to analyse the situation
and provide a clearer picture. At present, the turnout reported in surveys commissioned
by Local Government New Zealand appears to be far too optimistic considering the
turnout results in Māori wards and constituencies and can lead to inconsistent and unreli-
able analysis about Māori turnout. For example, the 2016 post-election survey reported
Māori turnout as 60% (Local Government NZ 2016). The turnout in Māori constituencies
for 2016 averaged 26%. The report does acknowledge, in regard to the general turnout,
that the survey result of 63% diered from the actual voter turnout of 43% in 2016, and
it is noted that there is a sampling error for ethnicity turnout data because of the small
sample size, however, the claims about turnout are still made in the report.
The gap between voter turnout in the Māori wards/constituencies and turnout in
general wards and constituencies is comparable to the gap between the Māori and
general electorates in General Elections where Māori turnout tends to lower (New
Zealand Parliament 2014 Election Report). Turnout in Local Government general
wards and constituencies in 2016 was 43% and in 2013 42% (Department of Internal
Aairs 2016). Turnout in the Māori wards and constituencies in 2016 was an average
of 26.7% producing a 16% dierence from general wards and constituencies. In the
2017 General Election general roll voter turnout (as a percentage of those enrolled) was
79.8% (Electoral Commission 2017,2018). The average turnout of those on the Māori
electoral roll was 66.7% in 2017, a 13.1% dierence from the general roll.
Average overall voter turnout across contested Māori wards and constituencies in 2019
was 39.48%.
The average turnout for (5 contested Māori wards and constituencies) in
2016 was 26.78%. The average turnout must be taken with caution however as the
number of contested wards and constituencies has varied between 20042019 (Figures
1and 2).
Wairoa District Council Māori Ward had a higher turnout in 2019 than other councils
however this could be due to the fact that three councillors were being elected or that
District Councils also tend to have higher turnout than Regional Councils (Department of
Internal Aairs 2016).
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Māori constituencies
The rst Māori constituencies were created by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Māori
Constituency) Empowering Act 2001, with the rst election for the three constituencies
held in 2004. Voter turnout in these constituencies has uctuated since 2004 but has
not shown the overall decline seen in other places (See Figure 2). Mauao voter turnout
for 2019 was 29.2% and for the Kohi constituency was 41.68%.
Both constituencies had quite unusual features to their turnout. The number of special
votes disallowed in the Kohi electorate was high, at 33.3% (69 of 207 special residential
votes were disallowed) which means only 66.6% were allowed. The 2016 average
Figure 1. Average percentage turnout in contested Māori wards and constituencies.
Figure 2. Percentage voter turnout in Māori wards/constituencies 20042009.
percentage for allowed special votes in the Bay of Plenty Regional Council area was 90%
(Department of Internal Aairs 2016).
Another challenging feature of the Mauao voter turnout data was that it was collected
by dierent election services providers (Electionz and Election Services), meaning dierent
voter turnout statistics were calculated by each company. One provider sent voting packs
to 3163 electors and another to 6861 electors. Each company has slightly dierent methods
for presenting data making merging and analysis a time-consuming activity. In addition,
council stain the regionsdierent councils had dierent levels of knowledge about how
the Māori constituencies operated, making data collection challenging.
Waikato Regional Council Māori constituencies
Waikato Regional Council undertook a review of its representation arrangements in 2012
and voted to create two Māori constituencies as part of a 16-member council. These were
reconrmed in 2017. Voter turnout did not substantially decline in 2013 and 2016 but it
is not possible to tell for 2019 since both incumbents were re-elected uncontested (see
Figure 2).
Wairoa District Council Māori ward
The Wairoa District Council held two public polls on the establishment of a Māori ward,
rst unsuccessfully in 2012 and again (successfully) in 2016 alongside the council election
(Wairoa District Council n.d.). The rst election for the multi-member ward occurred in
2019. Three members were elected to Council alongside three members in the general
ward. Voter turnout for the Wairoa Māori ward was 45%.
Election expenses and donations are often highlighted in general orstate elections as inuen-
cing and potentially excluding certain kinds of candidates (Alexander 2005). In terms of the
Māori constituencies there is no correlation between candidate expenses and donations and
candidates winning election. In 2016 the average reported expenditure of elected candidates
for Māori constituencies was $698 quite signicantly lower than the last reported average
from 2010 for regional council general constituencies which was $2945 (Department of
Internal Aairs 2011). Councils tend to only retain expenses information for seven years
so no results for the Māori wards/constituencies are available before 2010.
Number of candidates
The average number of candidates in Māori wards and constituencies is similar to the
average for Councils. In 2016 the average number of candidates per position in the Bay
of Plenty Regional Council was 1.87, whilst for the Waikato Regional Council it was
2.28 (Department of Internal Aairs 2016)(Figures 3 and 4). In the two Waikato Regional
Council constituencies the number of candidates has declined markedly however
(Figure 5). It is not clear what has caused this decline. There is some anecdotal evidence
to suggest that hapūand iwi entities within particular areas generate a collective consensus
about particular incumbents and candidates and this may be a contributing factor. More
qualitative research would be required to validate this anecdotal evidence.
Glimmers of hope on the path to Treaty-based Local Government
Despite the threats and challenges directed towards Māori, for the 2019 Local government
elections many areas reported having the most Māori candidates standing for Local Gov-
ernment (Waatea News 2019; Waikato Tainui 2019). The high visibility of Māori candi-
dates in the 2019 election highlighted their presence, interest and mobilisation. Active
campaigns were conducted using social media to rally Māori communities in particular
to support Māori candidates in general or Māori wards and constituencies. There were
several notable successes for Māori candidates, outlined in Table 2. Ultimately however
despite the signicant numbers of Māori candidates in general seats, their electoral suc-
cesses continued to be limited.
Figure 4. Average number of candidates in Bay of Plenty Regional Council Māori constituencies.
Figure 3. Number of candidates in Māori wards/constituencies.
Wider possible examples of enacting Treaty-based Local Government
Māori voter turnout in local elections tends to be lower than non-Māori (Bargh and Rata
2019). Some have argued this indicates a lack of interest or disconnection of Māori from
Local Government (Lee 2016). However, voter turnout is the result of multiple and chan-
ging factors (Foster and Taylor 2019). In addition, simply relying on Māori voter turnout
statistics to assess participationor interestis a blunt tool that cannot provide a complete
picture. In the nal part of this article, two examples of Māori participation are outlined
that might be seen to be beginning to enactTreaty-based Local Government relationships
by working parallel, and with, Local Government.
Te Tatau o Te Arawa
The Te Arawa Partnership Board/Te Tatau o Te Arawa, is one of these examples which
has representatives elected by members of Te Arawa iwi. Te Tatau o Te Arawa is an inde-
pendent board which provides for mana whenua representation in the Rotorua District
and which has representatives who sit on Rotorua District Council committees (Strategy,
Policy and Finance Committee and the Operations and Monitoring Committee). Repre-
sentatives are elected to the Board by electors who were registered with the Te Arawa
Lakes Trust in 2015 when the inaugural elections occurred.
Te Tatau o Te Arawa is comprised of the following representatives: 1 koeke (elder), 2
rangatahi (young person), 2 land trusts/incorporations, 1 pan-Te Arawa entity, 2 Ngāti
Figure 5. Average number of candidates in Waikato Regional Council Māori constituencies.
Table 2. 2019 successes on the path to Treaty-based local government relationships.
Council Achievement
Rotorua Lakes Council Tania Tapsell received more votes than any other candidate for Rotorua Lakes
Council (Rotorua Lakes Council 2019).
Wairoa District Council In the Wairoa general ward, two of the three candidates elected are Māori, as are
all three of those elected to the Wairoa Māori ward- making it the only Council in
the country with a majority of Māori councillors (Wairoa District Council 2019).
Bay of Plenty Regional Council In the Kōhīward, Toi Iti received 2450 votes the most votes ever recorded for a
single candidate in a Local Māori ward/constituency (Bay of Plenty Regional
Council 2019)
Ōpōtiki District Council and Chatham
Islands Council
Lyn Riesterer, and Monique Croon became the countrys two Māori
mayors (Ōpōtiki DIstrict Council 2019; Chatham Islands Council 2019).
Whakatane District Council Hinerangi Goodman tied for the Murupara/Galatea Ward seat, was declared
winner, then overturned by a recount overturned (Black 2019).
Whakaue, 6 Te Arawa iwi/hapū. The Board does not provide for representation of mataa-
waka, those Māōri who live in the Rotorua District and who are not members of mana
whenua hapūand iwi.
Voter turnout for the 2019 elections was 17.24%, of which 71% were cast by post and
28.6% online. The pan-Te Arawa entity representative was re-elected unopposed. In the
inaugural 2015% elections turnout was 25.46%, of which 76.79% were cast by post and
23.21% online (Figure 6). This indicates a decline in turnout and a marginal increase in
online voting. The roll decreased in 2019 from 11,15311,118 votes issued.
One of the elements of Te Tatau o Te Arawa turnout is that it derives from Te Arawa
voters who live anywhere. In some senses this is acknowledges Māori legal principles and
practices for governance (Jones 2016). This membership disrupts the existing Local govern-
ment idea that only people who live within a district are able to vote for representatives. The
concept is aligned with the Māori political idea that Māori will continue to maintain a link
and interest in the social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing of their tra-
ditional tribal areas regardless of where they live (Bargh 2016). It demonstrates an acknowl-
edgement of the livedrealities for Māori people where most regionally based iwi have a high
proportion of members who live outside their traditional tribal areas (Bargh and Rata 2020).
This acknowledgement is signicant as it aligns with the models Webster and Cheyne
argued best suited a Treaty compliance in local governance those that allowed for
more Māori forms of governance(Webster and Cheyne 2017,p.160).
In Auckland, the Independent Māori Statutory Board also has an acknowledgment of
Māori political organisational structures through provisions for distinct mana whenua and
mataawaka Board members and is the second example of potential enactment of early
forms on the path towards Treaty-based local government relationships.
Independent Māori Statutory Board, Auckland
The Independent Māori Statutory Board, is a body established by the Local Government
(Auckland Council) Act 2009. One of the Boards primary purposes is to assist the Auck-
land Council by promoting issues of cultural, economic, environmental and social signi-
cance for mana whenua and mataawaka. Mana whenua are members of Auckland based
Figure 6. Te Tatau o Te Arawa voting method.
hapūor iwi, while mataawaka are Māori people who live in Auckland but who are not part
of a mana whenua group. The Board consists of seven mana whenua representatives and
two mataawaka representatives appointed for a three-year term.
The Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB) is not elected by individual mana
whenua and mataawaka people participating in a system of voting but rather uses a
specic process outlined in the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009. The
process involves the creation of a Selection Body specically for the purpose of appointing
members of the IMSB. The Selection Body is comprised of 1820 members who represent
particular mana whenua groups and they select candidates. As a result, even though
mataawaka individuals have representatives, they do not elect or select those representa-
tives directly themselves, they are instead selected by mana whenua representatives. Mana
whenua individuals of Auckland, however, theoretically have the opportunity to lobby or
inuence the decisions made on their behalf through their representative on the Selection
The Selection Body conducts its internal selection by using a system of an open vote,
which members may choose to abstain from and Minutes are kept of these details
(IMSB 2019). Candidates are divided into Mana Whenua groupings: Marutūāhu (2),
Ngāti Whatua (2), Waiohua-Tāmaki (2), Ngāti Wai (1) and each grouping is discussed
and voted on separately. Mataawaka (2) candidates are considered as a separate grouping
and discussed and voted on separately.
In 2016, two of the 20 members of the Selection Body were appointed as IMSB
members and in 2019 four of the 18 members of the Selection Body were appointed as
IMSB members (Te Puni Kōkiri 2019a,2019b). Concern was expressed by one member
of the Selection Body in 2019 about this overlap however it is allowed for under the Sche-
dule 2 of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 (IMSB 2019).
Both Te Tatau o Te Arawa and the IMSB provide examples where attempts are being
made, in dierent ways, to acknowledge Treaty-based Local Government relationships.
For Te Tatau o Te Arawa while the voter turnout for the rst two elections is still quite
low, further research is needed before any conclusions are drawn about whether this
reects local Māori interest or approval of this political model. For the IMSB, further
research and data about the Selection Body and its processes of engagement would
assist in assessing the level of approval for this model.
This article has highlighted some of the challenges on the path to building Treaty-based
local government relationships. The core challenges begin with the terminology used to
describe and study this topic and connect to the attitudes commonly held by non-
Māori councillors and include resistance to establishing Māori wards/constituencies.
Despite those challenges, when voter turnout is examined for Māori wards/constituencies
themselves there do not appear to be any specic additional electoral challenges separate
from those aforementioned.
There are increasing numbers of councils attempting to introduce political processes to
allow for iwi contributions to decision-making. This includes attempts to enable Māori to
follow their own voting process and elect their own independent representatives to parallel
political entities which they can partner with. Te Tatau o Te Arawa and the Independent
Māori Statutory Board provide examples of the variety of ways this is evolving in dierent
regions. These systems align in small ways with some, but certainly not all, of the prin-
ciples contained in ideas about Treaty relationships such as recognition of Māori being
self-determining and being engaged with as a nation, mentioned at the beginning of
this article.
The scarcity of data will continue to limit research in this area, including the assessment
of the eectiveness of dierent models. Central government, in particular the Department
of Internal Aairs, Te Puni Kōkiri and the Minister of Local Government should investi-
gate directing local government to collect ethnicity data for elections. This would make it
easier for policy makers and academics to give equal attention to the involvement of both
sides of the Treaty-based local government relationship.
In this article I have outlined the data that is available and conclude by encouraging
greater attention be paid to building on this data and the emerging Treaty-based local gov-
ernment relationship. Those non-Māori agitating against the intent of Te Tiriti would do
well to recall the words of Chief Justice Eddie Durie,
We [Māori] must not forget that the Treaty is not just a Bill of Rights for Māori. It is a Bill of
Rights for Pakeha too. It is the Treaty that gives Pakeha the right to be here. Without the
Treaty there would be no lawful authority for the Pakeha presence in this part of the
South PacicWe must remember that if we are the Tangata Whenua, the original
people, then the Pakeha are the Tangata Tiriti, those who belong to the land by right of
that Treaty. (Durie, quoted in Borrows 2019, p. 45).
1. Data are derived from the Department of Internal Aairs Local Authority Election Statistics,
Local Authority Election Data 2007,2010, 2013, 2016,(
OpenDocument )as well as received directly from Councils, Independent Election Services
and Electionz. Turnout includes blank and informal votes.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author(s).
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... Nevertheless, there is a small degree of domestic legal acknowledgement of the relationships of Māori with water. For instance, the Resource Management Act (RMA 1991) requires local authorities to recognise the relationships of Māori with their ancestral waterbodies (rivers, lakes, seas) and take into account kaitiakitanga (environmental guardianship exercised by Māori) when exercising their functions and powers to managing the development, use, and protection of environments (Bargh 2020;Bell 2018;Ruru 2012). However, the RMA, as we detailed in our previous chapter, only provides a limited degree of recognition to Māori interests in water, and gives them the right to be included in local government decision-making regarding management and use of water, which is to say participatory inclusion. ...
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Open Access Chapter: Access Here We explore the ways in which the formal recognition (to some extent) of Indigenous knowledge systems within environmental governance and the role of reconcilition in achieving environmental justice. We examine whether recent agreements between the New Zealand Crown (Crown) and Māori tribal groups (iwi), known as Treaty ‘settlements’, to establish shared co-governance and management over rivers encapsulate and are capable of achieving environmental justice for Māori. We draw on schoalrship on legal and ontological pluralism to consider questions of how to remedy environmental injustice and what reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples means in settler societies. Rather than seek to provide a singular definition of Indigenous environmental justice (IEJ), we instead examine how Indigenous peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand and other colonial societies are engaged in efforts to negotiate with and challenge the colonial legal orders, develop their laws, policies, and governance frameworks to achieve justice within the freshwater realm.
White fragility, a common response of white people to calls to engage in conversations about racism and address their complicity with it, has received considerable scholarly attention. Much less attention has been given to the antidote: white stamina. This paper explores the development of stamina in the journey of ‘recovery’ from racism of one white settler individual who has become a public figure in Aotearoa New Zealand, in part through his declaration that he is a ‘recovering racist’. Significantly, the racism at the heart of this person’s story was directed towards indigenous, Māori New Zealanders; racism and settler colonialism are intertwined in this case. Consequently, the paper also responds to Lawrence and Dua’s (2005) call to ‘decolonise antiracism’ by foregrounding the indigenous–settler relationship in the analysis of racism within a settler society. The paper teases out overlaps and differences between white racism and settler colonialism, and between white stamina and settler stamina. Finally, I argue that there may be things for antiracists to learn from struggles to decolonise settler colonialism. Most significantly, this analysis points to the importance and power of the existence of an aspirational positive identity and position for ‘recovering racists’.
It is sometimes claimed that the use of preferential voting facilitates more effective representation of under-represented groups than that generated by the first-past-the-post (FPP) system, particularly in combination with higher district magnitude. This claim is tested using unique observational data. Local government elections in New Zealand are conducted using either the single transferable vote (STV) or first-past-the-post, providing the opportunity to compare representation of women and Indigenous Māori across the two sets of councils. When combined with higher district magnitude, STV may sometimes promote the election of women, but has no effects on the election of Māori. The advantages of high district magnitude STV in promoting descriptive representation are counteracted by lack of coordination in candidate nomination and voting because these local electoral contests are predominantly nonpartisan.
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This report examines the problem of voter turnout decline: what has been causing it and what it may mean. In the report’s first section, we draw on research from the Electoral Commission and Statistics New Zealand to outline the demographic characteristics of the ‘typical’ non-voter. This tells us who is most disconnected from parliamentary democracy in this country, whether by choice or by circumstance. It also hints at some of the wider structural issues associated with voter turnout decline. In the second section, we outline and critique the manner in which the Electoral Commission and much political science scholarship has approached the issue. Broadly speaking, the Electoral Commission and mainstream political science focus on why individuals do not vote and what can be done to persuade them otherwise. While this is useful research, it does not get to the root of the issue. In the third section, then, we consider how a number of structural changes in the capitalist political economy and the institution of representative parliamentary democracy have negatively impacted voter turnout. These changes raise larger questions about the efficacy of contemporary parliamentary democracy and the ability of government to respond to voters. The issue, as we see it, is that voter turnout decline is symptomatic of wider structural problems with the content and delivery of representative democracy in this county. While the Electoral Commission and much of the scholarship on the subject suggests the problem can be addressed by motivating individuals to go to the polls, we argue fundamental changes are needed if representative democracy is to become more meaningful to voters.
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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.
Internationally, declining voter turnout is a topic of considerable concern in many liberal democracies. In this article, we investigate whether these similar trends can be discerned in the voter turnout for Māori governance entities. We first explore some of the demographic contexts within which Māori governance entities operate with a specific focus on population, residence, and age. We then provide a detailed descriptive analysis of voting data from one particular entity: Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, with whom we worked to understand how their elections inform their aspirations for continuing connectedness with tribal members. In the final section of the article, we present findings from an analysis of publicly available tribal voting data to see whether the trend of declining voter turnout is observable and whether online voting is shown to impact turnout.
In this article, I outline the existing legislative options available and rationale for Māori representation in local government. I suggest that the arguments and rationale against Māori representation have been exacerbated by a lack of clarity around local government’s duties and obligations stemming from the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. In the second part of this article, I explore more recent arguments by Māori for representation and involvement in local government decision-making on the basis of being mana whenua, which means to have territorial authority and power associated with the possession and occupation of tribal land. This argument foregrounds specific iwi (tribes) as holding territorial authority and therefore rights to representation and involvement in decision-making sourced in tikanga Māori (Māori law), over and above other Māori who live in that area. I examine in detail the Rotorua District Council’s establishment of the Te Arawa Partnership Board in 2015 and argue that this Board and its first election results provide unique insights into the relationship between Te Arawa people living in and outside the district and has implications for broader conversations about the rights of Māori living away from their tribal areas.
Tully, Asch and Borrows assert that while treaties are subject to colonialism, certain political worldviews in treaty making become a starting point for processes of reconciliation and the fulfillment of treaty obligations between settler Canadians and Indigenous peoples. Underlying this proposition are principles of mutual recognition and sharing of the land and resources. In this article, I borrow James Tully's concept of small't' treaty relations to demonstrate how informal relations between L'sitkuk, clam and other fish harvesters around the world have the potential for regenerating these principles of mutuality as opposed to current formal treaty negotiations that are subjected to what I argue and refer to as political/knowledge ethos.