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A topsy-turvy world . . .


This is to exercise my right of reply to Lara, who played the racist card in her reaction to my letter (Gisborne Herald, November 23).

The Maori wards debate draws attention to a topsy-turvey world we live in.

Gisborne District Council has proposed a voting system which divides Gisborne citizens based on race while arguing that such a system is anti-racist.

Meanwhile, anyone who criticises such a race-based voting system is smeared as racist.

My letter was an open invitation to anyone to make the case for Maori wards in Gisborne.

Curiously, Gisborne's mayor and around five councillors seem happy to put themselves out of a job by reserving five seats for Maori-roll candidates to represent, not only Maori roll voters, but the general electoral population as well.

Maori-seat councillors are not required to be Maori, but must be voted for by Maori-roll voters, Maori candidates may be elected to general seats.

Is this not a virtue-signalling shambles?

Even the argument that Maori wards petitions are racist because no other ward option may be challenged by a petition may be resolved by opening all wards decisions, rural or urban, to the possibility of referenda.

But no, the Minister prefers to remove a democratic check rather than extending such a check.

Are the mainly non-Maori councillors who voted to proceed with Maori wards motivated by a quaint type of paternalism, and not appearing to understand that a race-based ward is by definition racist?

Surely, in a multicultural society such as we have, any governance structure should be racially neutral with political rights based on citizenship, not ethnicity.

I'm still waiting for someone to make a compelling case for Maori wards.

Mike Butler, Hastings

  1. Alice (Through the Looking Glass) says:

    My challenge would be for Mr Butler to deliver what he would consider to be a compelling case.
    Discourse is intended to further knowledge and understanding. Often it is confined by narrow-minded and defensive positions. For many generations local governance has happened according to the models and strictures imposed by the Crown.
    Perhaps now there is space for people to entertain that alternatives may be a positive change.

  2. Lara says:

    Hi Mike,
    If your missive above seeks to serve as a compelling case against Maori wards, it needs work.
    I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of politics but I recognise when a racist is flailing about. The race card is being played by you and your cronies from Hobson’s Pledge. I freely admit that racism gets right up my nose and I wholeheartedly support equity. Equity entails providing Maori with equitable representation not merely equal representation.
    Your move.

    1. Aimee says:

      Tautoko Lara. No such thing as ‘playing the race card’. You were merely calling it as it is. Racism is racism. I’m enjoying your letters and agree entirely.

  3. Mike Butler says:

    Still nothing substantive from Lara. Just the R word and a warped view of “equitable representation”.

    1. Lara says:

      Morning Mike,
      This will be my final response to you because trying to have a substantive conversation with someone who thinks as you do and belongs to the truly awful organisation Hobson’s Pledge is futile…
      Read the response from Thelma Karaitiana attached to another commentary. She seems to have a better handle on things than either you or I.
      I invite you to enrol in pretty much any course offered by universities here to distance students in order to educate yourself about implicit bias and the harm done to Maori as a result of Eurocentric government policies over the entire course of our nation’s history.
      Once you know something, you will be in a much sounder position to try to argue – although I doubt you will want to, because you will be much less ignorant.
      Nga mihi nui Mike.

  4. Mike Butler says:

    Alice, the perfect system for a country in which people from dozens of ethnic groups speak numerous languages, such as NZ, is a racially neutral system with political rights based on citizenship, not ethnicity. To set up Maori wards would be to step away from such a system.

  5. Lee Rigby, Tasmania says:

    All these labels divide and foster hatred. There is enough fear in the world without deliberately creating more. A fair poll where each vote counts. Look at the shambles in the recent USA election to see a divided and polarised electorate. Working together for the greater good is the only way forward.