The Māori Council is a statutory body that promotes policy for Te Iwi Māori, that is, for Māori as a nation or a people.
The main questions for the consultation are:
1. Should the Council be reformed? or
2. Should Council be replaced? or
3. Should there be no such statutory body at all?
The big question is the last. For a minority group, seeking to maintain its culture, statutory recognition of its function is required. Without it, the Council would not have had the standing to do what it did, in the Courts and institutions of the majority culture. It is important above all, to support statutory recognition.
The Council has an open mind on the questions of reform and replacement. If the Council is not accountable to all groups with an interest, it must look to change. For example, the Council was founded on a tribal structure. It made provision for Auckland urban groups but does it need to go further? Should it look as well to others who contribute to the survival of Māori values and tradition, like the Universities and professional organisations?
Support for the customary tribal structure, of whānau, hapū and iwi, is without question. But representation for hapū and iwi is a further issue given the rise of post settlement governance entities, their autonomous rights and their proven capacity to collectivise. There are major issues for discussion.
The immediate question is who should decide the issues and how.
The conferral of official recognition is for Māori to seek and for government to decide, but in deciding, good faith will require significant respect for the Treaty.
As for the shape of the organisation itself, and the process for deciding, that is for Māori to decide. That to is a Treaty principle.
The present government led process, as directed by the cabinet, is inherently wrong. A Māori led process would require prior meetings with several interest groups, and the production of a plan for the people.
For those reasons the Council says:
- the Council should stay until a better structure is found,
- the structure should come from Māori, by Māori process,
- the process will take time,
- good faith discussions with government,
- iwi leaders and urban groups should continue meanwhile.
Hon Sir Edward (Taihakurei) Durie KNZM
28 August 2013