Maangai Maaori impacting Hamilton Council decision-making

By Mānia Clarke

Hamilton City Council says Māori are having an impact on the council's decision-making. Five Maangai Māori have been appointed across four of the council's committees recently and Iwi Maangai Norman Hill says their influence has been immediate.

Hill attended his first Growth and Infrastructure committee meeting as an Iwi rep and said there wasn't any cultural aspects included in some of the Risk Management reports.

“So I suggested they need to implement the customs and practices of Waikato,” he says, “so, the committee welcomed my input, this was new to some of the General Managers who said they'd never heard this before, so we will include this going forward.”

Te Pora Thompson (Community, Services and Environment committee) and Bella Takiari-Brame (Finance committee) are also iwi Maangai keen to advance Maaori issues.

“We must uphold the visions of our ancestors, of our people. The second challenge is to get our Māori people to vote,” said Thompson.

“We talked about the rates and the impact that it has on multi-dwelling housing. I was able to sort of maybe raise the indication around papakāinga and how that affected us,” said Takiari-Brame.

Establishing the Maangai Maaori committee positions has been 18 months in the making, with a push from Waikato-Tainui sub-tribes, in partnership with the council, that would give the Maangai the same voting authority as their elected councillors.

“What's good for Iwi and maataa waka in Hamilton is good for the community as a whole, so they get an opportunity to hear that voice,” said Hamilton City Council CEO Richard Briggs.

“It's good for Council as well from a staff perspective. It means that we've got to step up and make sure that we're actually meeting their expectations about information they need to receive as well,” said Briggs

Council elections will be held next year and Takiari-Brame will look to ensure the Maangai Maaori seats remain.