Power without being elected
With the impending passage of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill, New Zealand will have taken a giant leap in the direction of reducing democracy in local government. It's important to be very clear about what this means:
- Ngai Tahu will appoint two members of the Canterbury Regional Council (known as Environment Canterbury), they will sit alongside and have identical powers to elected members.
- Ngai Tahu members will be selected by Ngai Tahu by whatever means Ngai Tahu deems appropriate
- Those councillors will have full powers to vote on spending, on taxes (rates), on buying and selling assets and on bylaws.
- No electors in Canterbury region will be able to remove Ngai Tahu representatives (except of course, those with authority in Ngai Tahu), includes those affiliated with Ngai Tahu who do not have influence with the iwi.
- Legislative constraints (as local government is constrained by legislation and regulation);
- Local democracy (the ability to vote out and replace Councillors who exercise these powers).