Mana whenua within the city is defined as Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira.
The Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee voted on a recommendation that one representative from local mana whenua Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira sit on all Council committees and subcommittees and have voting rights from 1 July.
The proposed arrangement would not extend to the Council’s CEO Performance Review Committee, the city’s two community boards or the District Licensing Committee.
The recommendation stems from a notice of motion successfully introduced last year by Councillor Jill Day (Ngāti Tuwharetoa), who chairs the Strategy and Policy Committee, and who holds the Council’s Māori Partnerships portfolio.
Under the proposal each mana whenua would be paid $111,225 a year – the equivalent to the salary paid to city councillors. Mana whenua would decide which representatives would attend committee meetings.
Councillor Day says she and Cr Tamatha Paul are the only two Māori on the Council and are often looked to for a Māori perspective. “We do bring a perspective, but we know that authentic representation by mana whenua will provide for the best decisions for Wellington.
“I want to strengthen relationships between Māori and the Council so together we can improve community wellbeing. It is only through our partnership that we can take full advantage of the opportunities from the growing Māori economy in Wellington.
“Wellingtonians have embraced Te Reo Māori in record numbers and I anticipate they will be proud their Council is taking our responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi seriously,” she adds.
At the moment mana whenua are non-voting and unpaid members of the Strategy and Policy Committee and Annual/Long Term Plan committee.
Cr Day says the Local Government Act 2002 requires councils to provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to decision-making and to foster ways for the development of Māori capacity to contribute to the decision-making processes.
“Wellington City Council wants to work in partnership with mana whenua and to be active Tiriti partners in the way in which we govern the city. This is one of the ways we wish to do so, amongst other opportunities we are actively pursuing, such as Māori wards.”
The Local Government Act also contains provisions for additional members of council committees of to be appointed by councils. Wellington City Council already uses this provision when appointing additional independent expertise to its Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.
Cr Day notes that Wellington City Council has long had Māori representation and input in matters of local governance. The Council was the first local authority to establish a Māori Committee in 1989.
The City Council also has memoranda of understanding with Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Incorporated. Each memorandum provides a framework of Council’s responsibilities to mana whenua and focuses on a strategic partnership to provide opportunities for mana whenua to contribute to decision making processes at a leadership level.
Ngāti Toa representative Naomi Solomon supports this kaupapa.
“This will establish a further opportunity for iwi to work in partnership with Council in a more meaningful way. Te Tiriti recognises the right of iwi participation and this is supported at an international level by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This kaupapa is not a complicated one.”
Huia Puketapu, Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika Trustee says: “Yesterday saw an historic moment for the future generations of Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Yesterday enabled the possibility of diversity and a Māori world view at the committee tables of Council. Our future is watching.”
Last month, following another notice of motion from Cr Day, the Strategy and Policy Committee resolved in principle to establish Māori wards in Wellington City at the next local body elections at the end of 2022, subject to consideration of feedback from the community.
Targeted engagement will now be undertaken with several groups including mana whenua, Māori and other members of the community. Feedback received from these engagements will be considered before a final decision is made.