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GDC taking first step on anti-racism journey

Fostering Maori participation in council decision-making is a step on Tairawhiti’s “anti-racism journey”, but “co-creating” a new policy with Maori is the goal.

A review of Te Whakarite Whai-wahitanga Maori ki nga Whakataunga Kaunihera policy focused on bilingual headings, structure, readability and updating the central government landscape, but Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said they aimed to go beyond that.

“Through the process our intention is to work with iwi to co-create a new policy as we also walk through our anti-racism journey,” she said.

At the full council meeting on Thursday, Councillor Shannon Dowsing questioned the decision to include bilingual headings rather than create a bilingual version.

“It seems that if we’re going to make (anti-racism) a genuine objective then we should have a te reo version of this document as well as an English version,” he said.

The council committed to undertaking anti-racism work in August, agreeing to put in place plans, resources and actions to deliver on its commitment to tangata whenua in Tairawhiti.

This followed a public deputation in June from activist Tina Ngata, requesting that the council embark on an anti-racism journey after it decided to reinstate the controversial Endeavour models without consultation.

The Local Government Act requires all councils ensure there are specific opportunities for Maori to contribute to decision-making processes.

Councillors adopted the draft policy, with the next step being consultation through the 2021 Long Term Plan.

ON DUTY: A whakairo, or carving, of Pourangahua and the Great Bird of Ruakapanga watches over the Gisborne District Council chambers.