Debate continues on iwi appointments to committee

Ngai Tahu representatives Tahu Potiki (left) and Edward Ellison will sit on the Otago Regional...
Ngai Tahu representatives Tahu Potiki (left) and Edward Ellison. Photo: Christine O'Connor
While the decision about iwi seats on an Otago Regional Council committee had already been made, the debate around the appointments continued yesterday.

In the morning the council passed a further motion to accept minor adjustments to the terms of reference and accept the two appointees.

Eight councillors voted for the motion, three abstained and one voted against it.

In the afternoon, Ngai Tahu representatives Edward Ellison and Tahu Potiki sat on the council's policy committee.

After a lengthy debate last month, councillors voted seven to three to approach local runaka to appoint two representatives on its policy committee, joining 12 elected councillors.

In the council meeting yesterday morning Cr Michael Laws continued his opposition to the idea, saying he was voting against the motion "very strongly''.

He questioned the timing, as they would only sit on two more meetings this year.

The newly elected council after October would have to re-vote for the motion.

Cr Graeme Bell said the iwi representatives should run for election in October.

Cr Ella Lawton said it bought her "great sadness'' as a governor to be moving on with the motion without having the council having "thought through the options'' for iwi communication.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said he was initially not sure it was possible to get the iwi representatives at the table so soon, but the "stars aligned''. The idea had been passed, so it was not time to rehash the argument.

"Let's get on with it. I'm quite excited about it,'' Cr Bryan Scott said.

Cr Gretchen Robertson said the council needed to be effective, honest and open. Iwi seats were a "very useful'' in iwi relations. The representatives would bring "important skills'' to help the council.

Cr Michael Deaker said Cr Laws had "said it all before'' and was doing so "purely for the benefit of the media''.

At the policy meeting later that day Mr Potiki said he thanked the council for the opportunity and the "vigour of the debate thus far''.

Mr Ellison said after the policy meeting he understood better some of the council's challenges.



Excellent idea all round. So good in fact that I'm looking forward to it spreading to other organisations. It's high time that more un-elected members are appointed to democratic boards and given voting rights. Let's invite the mining industry, religious groups and 1080 campaigners to lend their perspectives and votes to organisations such as Ngai Tahu and Otakou Marae. After all, the leader of the free world, Donald Trump, regularly appoints industrialists and lobby groups to oversee environmental protection, health and banking regulators and it's all working very well.