The Waikato District Council is planning to introduce external specialist Maori representatives to its principle council committees after October’s local government elections.
Chief Executive Gavin Ion said that the council and iwi were keen to improve the opportunity for Maori to contribute to the council’s decision-making.
“We see this as contributing to council’s vision of creating Liveable, Thriving and Connected Communities,” he said.
Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson said that the Waikato District Council-Waikato Tainui Joint Management Agreement (JMA) committee had made the move a priority.
The JMA committee “wants to enable Maori to further contribute to, and participate in council’s decision-making.”
A proposal to introduce the external specialist Maori representatives as part of the council’s next governance structure in October is to be tabled at a July council meeting. If approved, the positions would be made for three years and would be publicly advertised in October-November. The positions are proposed to be in place for the first committee meetings in 2020.
During the year the council staff has been engaging with Maori stakeholders to discuss the appointment of Maori representatives to the council’s committees, the form the positions could take, and how they could be given effect.
The council is required to provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to local government decision-making, set out in legislation, such as the Local Government Act 2002 and Resource Management Act 1991.
The council report will recommend that the Maori representatives (known as Maangi Maori – Voice of Maori) will be included on the council’s principal committees, which currently comprise: Strategy and Finance; Infrastructure; and Policy and Regulatory
The Maori representatives would also attend council workshops that are relevant to their work.
The proposed Maori representatives would have voting and speaking rights at committee meetings (i.e. a decision-making role). The appointments would be made via a public recruitment process and independent panel, involving both iwi and council.
Anyone wanting to learn more about the proposal should contact either firstname.lastname@example.org and include ‘Maori Representation’ in the subject line or Sam Toka, Council’s Pouhono Iwi ki te Haapori, email: email@example.com