Mayor keen to ensure Maori voices are heard

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By DAVID HILL

Mayor David Ayers is keen to ensure a Ngai Tuahuriri voice is heard in the council’s district plan review.

His motion to appoint a runanga representative to the district planning and regulation committee was defeated at a council meeting this month, but he says there are several ways to engage with the runanga.

“Our relationship with Ngai Tuahuriri is very important and we acknowledge their historic presence in this area and the history they have in terms of food resources and the like,” he says.

“We have a very fruitful relationship and we will find other ways to include that historical, environmental and mana whenua voice in our deliberations, so I see that as a work in progress.”

Mr Ayers says the defeat of his motion does not represent a change in the council’s commitment to working with Ngai Tuahuriri.

“I think that our councillors were concerned about having a non-elected member on a committee, even though the district plan has to be signed off by the full council and not by the committee.”

He says there are precedents for councils appointing non-elected members with full voting rights, with Waimakariri being one of the few councils not to co-opt “independent members with expertise” on to audit committees.

The Waimakariri Zone Committee has also co-opted members.

The district plan review is in its early stages, with the work at present being “mainly in the form of workshops which are non-decision making”.

“It will largely be next year or even in the next council term when voting at a committee level will be required,” Mr Ayers says.

“We will continue talking to Ngai Tuahuriri to determine how best to ensure the runanga has a voice and to continue in the spirit of partnership.”

The council has regular meetings with runanga leaders, as well as the annual hui which was held recently.