Northland regional councilor quits as council votes to add Māori seats

By D'Angelo Martin

Jon Bain disagrees with the voting process of electing a new constituency into the council: "I don't mind whether it's Māori seats, Federated Farmers seats or Country Women's Institute seats, I still don't believe that the regional council had any right to change a democratic system of election by the casting of one or two votes." 

Northern Regional Council members including chairperson Penny Smart voted seven to one in favour of having a Māori seat. Bain says he has nothing against Māori and neither is he racist. "It is purely for me about the electoral process - it must be either changed by the majority or left as it is. The regional should have a say in these decisions, not just the council."

Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene who has said previously that it is important to have more Māori voices at the council's decision table says the decision is a step in the right direction. "Those who disagreed with a Māori voice to be at the decision table of the council, regardless of their reasoning, is diminishing our capability to deliver. And I am only assuming that they would much rather us stay in a Pākeha way of thinking and a Pākeha structure when it comes to regional councils," he says.

Bain has no regrets about his views on this issue. "A broken democracy" is what he calls it. "I think the process on how to get them there is wrong. Once people have decided how the council is to be elected, then it is up to how you distribute the numbers. At the moment I think each councillor has at least 20,000 constituents that he/she is responsible for. " 

NRC hopes to have the Māori constituencies at the 2022 local government elections.