At midday today, about 6,000 Maori and other supporters held a protest march in Queen St in Auckland, in the rain. The march was called a hikoi. The hikoi was organised by a young Maori man, Ngarimu Blair, who controlled the crowd to make sure that it was a peaceful protest. They made a lot of noise and they carried banners with words like “No Super-City without Maori” but there was no trouble from the crowd in the hikoi.
The hikoi was to protest against the government’s decision not to have three Maori members on the new council. (See April 7th 2009.) Maori believe that the new council members will be those who have enough money to advertise themselves and win elections. Maori are not usually rich. In the national elections, political parties, not candidates, pay for advertising.
Also, we have MMP in national elections. MMP gives everyone two votes: one for the candidate and one for the party. This has meant that many Maori have been elected to Parliament. City Council elections do not have MMP votes.
Maori have also reminded the government that Maori tribes gave the land for Auckland city in the nineteenth century – it was Maori land – so Maori have a right to have representatives on the council. There is a big percentage of Maori living in Auckland and they want their voices to be heard. They say a democracy must include Maori.
The Prime Minister is not yet ready to change his mind about Maori representatives but he said there is still time for discussion.