Indigenous Rights Commissioner, Karen Johansen, has said that now is the time for meaningful conversations to take place around Maori participation and representation in Local Government.
New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Juddrecently announced his decision to not stand again in local politics, following responses to his position on the rights of Maori New Zealanders.
“The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are about protection, partnership and participation. It is shameful that Mayor Judd has had such aggressive and abusive responses to his call for these same principles to be upheld to within the Taranaki Council’s region,” says Commissioner Johansen.
“Mayor Judd is someone that understands the need for Maori to have the right to participate in the decision making process, especially on matters that affect them. It is this understanding that should be celebrated, not publicly vilified.
“I met and spoke with the Mayor at Waitangi this year. He is someone who believes deeply in fairness and justice and was prepared to do something about it, at great cost.
“He has shown bravery, but should be one of many who raise their voice in support of Maori participation. We must all take this opportunity to encourage more effective, structural representation of Maori in local government.”