GUEST BLOG: John Tamihere – Stopping racist petitions against Māori Wards a step towards fixing colonisation


Nanaia Mahuta is doing an outstanding job with her Foreign Affairs and Local Government portfolios and delivering opportunities for Māori.

It has been a long time coming, so a big mihi to Nanaia.

The changes proposed to the Local Government Act will present opportunities for young Māori to step up to represent their people and their communities.

Individual councils had previously tried to establish Māori wards, but they were easily overturned by Pakeha opposed petitions that needed just 5 percent of voters’ stop to Māori wards in its tracks.

New legislation will prevent that from happening – thereby putting a halt to a majority discriminating against a minority.

What Nanaia and this Government are doing is acknowledging that in any great democracy, you put belts and braces around the tyranny of the majority. This must be a good thing.
When the legislation comes through the House, we will have a better view of how it works.

It is NOT about having a Māori ward in place of a Pakeha ward. It’s not a swap out.

Anyone claiming that is not telling the truth.

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This law change has been a long time coming for Māori and the beauty about it is, it cannot be overturned by those who would rather control remain in their hands.

This change goes some way to reuniting Māori and giving them a proper voice – not merely a token one – on community issues.

When our parents and grandparents moved from their rural lands to cities, they were pepper potted and prevented from living together sometimes within the same street or community. Yet our Pacific Island brothers and sisters were allowed to live together but in areas like Ponsonby, Otara and Mangere.

Māori are still coming back from that discriminatory and racial assimilation policy of pepper potting and we are starting to combine and use our numbers, as pakeha do, as a right.

This is also another step in fixing the colonisation of us as a people, where successive authorities have tried to make us all nice white brown folk.

Māori are kicking back against those types of policies.

Would I consider standing in a Māori ward? Perhaps, but my role now is to provide succession planning for Māori leadership.

What Nanaia is doing is providing opportunities for more Māori to represent their communities off a Māori footing.

We know from history, a number of people of Māori descent will not get the votes needed if they are strong Māori advocates. That’s the way racism works in this country.

Nanaia’s legislation is another step of our journey of righting past wrongs.


  1. Big congratulations to Minister Mahuta and, I presume, the Labour government Maori Caucus for such decisive action. Perhaps this Caucus can be the real drivers of social change and increased equality in Ao/NZ. Many areas where they may seek to improve the lives of Maori should also be of benefit to all citizens especially those most in need.

  2. Well one thing foreshore is nobody can blame Maori for the bloody mess most of our councils are in. Many have no money, very little or no social housing, failing and old infrastructure.

    • If it’s anything like the local council here it’s also due in no small part to urinating bucket loads of cash and interest on vanity projects of the recent past while kicking the can of looming problems down the road for someone else to pick up. It’s amazing our main water supply pipes were put in about the time of the Boer War. Replacement of rotted out sections is considered almost a measure of last resort.
      Anyway, will councils be allowed to have more than one local council Maori seat each if the population/demand allows it? You know like how our Parliament works with them? Sorry I haven’t really had the time to look into it too deeply.

    • 100% Covid is pa

      Have you forgotten poisoning their residents with polluted/poisonous water. For a council to be aware that drinking water is lead contaminated since August, and 6 months later the residents are now being warned not to drink said water. I think some heads need to roll. But I bet they won’t. Incompetence is rewarded in this country.

    • Covid is Pa. Correct. Right now, ‘colonialism’ is a neat little concept enabling various civil bodies to avoid taking responsibility for their own incompetence, while neoliberalism continues to wreak havoc unabated.

      The Dunedin City Council should face criminal negligence charges for the lead poisoning tragedy inflicted upon the distraught inhabitants of Waikouaiti and Karitane, but here in New Zealand no-one takes responsibility for anything – blame a previous government – blame folk with the same skin colour of alleged historical miscreants.

      Wellington’s water woes developed while the WCC stealthily enabled the desecration of lovely Shelly Bay; painted frivolous rainbow coloured pedestrian crossings while compelled to show their sympathy with the LGBTQ community courtesy of the long-suffering ratepayer; oversaw reasonably well- functioning bus transport reduced to an erratic unpredictable shambles of ill-paid drivers and passengers who no longer know if they will get to work on time; messed up pretty Island Bay with controversial cycle lanes – while the water leaks and the sewers spew beneath the city streets.

      I’m suggesting right now that in one suburb, sub-contractors may have simply asphalted over the top of two separate water inlet leaks on WCC-owned berm in the same street. It took three phone calls to the stroppy WCC to induce them to “fix” one such leak on an adjoining property owned by a Chinese property developer with language-challenged immigrant tenants. I have twice had to pay for paid for sewer blockages occurring meters from my house, by WCC tree roots, on WCC-owned reserve land. Young whanau were saved thousands of dollars by a private drainage company being able to prove that a blocked sewer a considerable distance from their home, which the WCC was trying to dump on them, was apparently actually caused by the WCC’s own works. And this is the council in the capital city, incapable of prioritising like responsible grown-up citizens, but bleating away on identity issues – while water and sewage leak beneath the streets.

      Older Wellington suburbs with old power poles, may have power cables leading underground through uncapped conduits also streaming water down and along and up into the meter/switch boards, causing dangerous corrosion.

      Despite inspected meter board repairs, this caused meter board fires on two occasions for the elderly lady occupants of the properties concerned, one of whom is now too nervous to sleep in her bedroom. She declined Wellington Electricity’s offer of I think just under $400 compensation. Her insurance company was threatened with legal action if they pursued a claim. Wellington Electricity is apparently owned by the richest man in Hong Kong, the lines company having been being flogged off by the Wellington City Council, I think under the then leadership of mayor Mark Blumsky, now warmly ensconced in the Cook Islands.

      It is simplistic to dump perceived or real problems on events of history, some of which may be quite complex.
      I flatted with Nanaia Mahuta’s mother, Liz Edmonds, in Stafford Steet, Dunedin. It was a good flat, and we didn’t think in racist terms – well certainly neither Liz, a lovely phlegmatic woman, nor I did. I inherited a Saturday cleaning job from her with a Dunedin theatrical couple who she thought a bit barmy, and so did I. Liz did talk to me about the dynamics involved in obtaining an AF Scholarship, when another Pakeha flat mate from her hometown was awarded one which locals thought should have gone to her, and consequently kicked up a fuss about. I’m pretty sure that in the event, two AFS’s were awarded. At the time it seemed to be more a conversation about the clout which some individuals wield unfairly or inappropriately in small towns, as they still do, but if I know about this, then it is the sort of happening which may have coloured Minister Mahuta’s thinking.

      Coincidentally, another dear recently deceased Maori friend, Alice née Rankin, told me that she was destined, or lined up, to marry either Robert (?) Mahuta or Hugh Kawharu, I can’t remember which, but she married a lovely Scandinavian man. Rankin whanau have at times named other Ngapuhi rellies sometimes perceived as racist, who they ponder may failed to come to terms with their own Pakeha heritage, or may have good reason to be aggrieved with ancestors, and unfortunately may project this unfairly or carelessly onto today’s people.

      Meanwhile, the cockroaches of officialdom continue with BAU, giving water to China, poisoning our own citizens up and down the country, killing river fish and plant life, and doubtless uninterested in collating or even knowing when it causes fires at the homes of poor little old ladies.

      It may be time to stop bandying around time-expired terms, and to start look forensically at facts, cause, and effects concerning issues which are almost certainly going to blight the lives of all of our mokopuna.

  3. STV — Maori wards are a Victorian crutch into the brain. The turds in govt won’t stand up against ties, with their fuck-us groups. The Left without bullshit isn’t the Left. The ingredient we’ve missed. Why the Davids and the Andrews failed. Lack of full-of-it-ness. When I see violence of expression I’ll vote for them, though I presently vote for those sad sacks, the Greens.

  4. I’ll vote strategically for any party except national and act. Governments will have to come up with heaps of putea over next decade to replace council infrastructure. The brown brothers and sisters down south and out west will have to pay for the separation of combined stormwater and wastewater mains/pipes in the older inner suburbs of the CBD, Remuera, Ponsonby, Parnell. Rates are going to rise exponentially.

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