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Super City Prominent In Race Relations Annual Review

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Joris de Bres
Joris de Bres

Wellington, March 11 NZPA - The transition of Auckland councils into one super city council and concerns about a lack of ethnic representation are prominent in an annual review of race relations being released today by the Human Rights Commission.

The Government has turned down a proposal for dedicated Maori seats on the council, but that decision is still being fought by various groups who fear ethnic minorities will be overlooked and disadvantaged by the council's structure.

An advisory board will instead assist the new council on policy matters while it becomes established.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said today there was a valid argument for dedicated Maori representation on the super city council and it was disappointing that had been all but ruled out.

"All I'm saying is that there must be an effective voice for Maori, Pacific and ethnic communities in what is New Zealand's largest and most diverse city," he told Radio New Zealand.

Mr de Bres said when the final bill on the super city goes back to the Parliamentary select committee, members needed to consider making ethnic advisory boards permanent.

He said the transition from many councils to one council was complex, as there were many community and cultural diversity programmes which helped build Auckland's social fabric.

"There is a real fear that particular services, or programmes or projects, will either get overlooked or rationalised out in the transition."

Mr de Bres said suggestions that capable ethnic individuals needed to put their hand up for a seat on the new council needed to be considered realistically.

He said the new council involved few individuals representing a large population and area. "It's actually even more difficult to get on to the council than it would have been previously."

"Whether or not people stand, there needs to be an active process of engaging with all New Zealanders in all communities...and over time if the system works, then surely you would see a pattern of people being represented from all ethnicities. That's not the case at the moment..."

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