Willie Jackson: Co-governance a chance at equity for Māori

Source: Q and A

Minister of Māori Development Willie Jackson says democracy in 2022 is broader and more expansive than just one person, one vote.

This week Jackson released the results of initial conversations with Māori about how to meet the Government’s commitments under UNDRIP.

He told Q+A with Jack Tame that his Government’s push to have co-governance and co-management arrangements beyond those already introduced through Treaty settlements, were a response to the need to meet Māori ambitions, and address Māori inequality.

“The nature of democracy has changed. This is a democracy now where you take into account the needs of people, the diverse needs, the minority needs. Its not the tyranny of the majority anymore, that’s what co-management and co-governance is about. It’s nothing to fear," Jackson said.

He described ACT leader David Seymour as a hypocrite for taking issue with co-governance, saying Seymour, “is a beneficiary of MMP. MMP meant you had to work together. Co-governance and co-partnership is the same thing.

“It’s about diversity, what are minorities going through, its time to work together.”

In response, David Seymour called again for a wider debate on the issue of co-governance.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when our constitutional settings are changing and the Government can’t put forward a coherent argument. At best they don’t understand what they’re saying, at worst they’re deliberately muddying the water with misinformation.”

Jackson acknowledged that not all efforts, be they at local or central government level, have got the balance right, such as the Rotorua District Council Representative Arrangements Bill, which was introduced by Labour MP Tamati Coffee, and supported at its first reading by Labour.

The bill seeks to establish new wards and seats – but David Parker has said the proposal discriminates against general roll voter, and cannot be justified.

Jackson agreed while the intent was understandable, the execution was not.

“It’s driven by the invisibility that Māori have at council level and you’ve got maybe an over-enthusiastic council down there. Were there a few mistakes? Well obviously, and the Attorney General said that, we’ll cross that off and we’ll look to reshape things.”