Topic: Politics

Māori world view for local governance frameworks

By Talisa Kupenga

A newly released local government localisation report has a strong Māori governance focus which Bay of Plenty regional councillor Arapeta Tahana says would benefit iwi.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) is adopting Māori frameworks in their bid to re-boot local democracy and give communities more autonomy from government in decision making.

President  Dave Cull says, "the model that Māori have used across the board for generations is actually where local government in many ways would like to go because it empowers the community level."

Bay of Plenty regional councillor Arapeta Tahana says, "Land rights, human rights and continuous occupation rights, these are terms used by those that belong to the land within their regions so localism upholds Māori world views." 

In New Zealand nearly 90-percent of public expenditure is made by central government, while the rest is made at the local government level. By comparison, the OECD average is an almost even 50-percent split.

Councillor Tahana says, "the problem with that is that they make decisions to benefit the general population but the outcomes don't adequately address the needs of this community or this community."

This is a view shared by Mr Cull who believes, "you're going to get much more effective and constructive outcomes if you drive decision making down as close to the people that it affects that you can."

He says the timing is also appropriate given the progress being made with Treaty Settlements.

"An iwi that's just gone through settlement, they're turning their focus from central to local government and the things that affect them are happening  locally and now they're resourced to engage with their local council, their community and the rest of the community much better."

New Zealand is significantly more centralised than the USA, Denmark and Germany.