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Ed Sheeran

Grey Power turns white power in council backlash

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Grey Power turns white power in council backlash

A fight back against Maori voices on councils is gathering pace.

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett says she is satisfied with the current process for allowing individual councils to set the level of Maori representation.

But a bid by the New Plymouth District Council to create a Maori ward is likely to face a referendum triggered by a petition, so it likely to fail.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei debated the issue in New Plymouth this week with Winston Peters and the petition’s promoter, former Taranaki Grey Power president Hugh Johnson.

She says even though her team, which included Radio Waatea broadcaster Willie Jackson, narrowly won the debate, she’s not sure it changed anyone’s position.

"It’s not an argument we won on the basis of logic. It's about how people feel and that will be the big difficulty, how do you increase particularly Pakeha people's comfort with this idea that you can have dedicated Maori seats and it's hard when you've got people like Winston Peters going on about it being separatism, which it is not, but people are nervous about it and it's really frustrating because you can't deal with that with a logical argument," she says.

There is also opposition to Maori representation in Rotorua, where councillors Rob Kent and Mike McVicker have set up what they call the Rotorua Pro-Democracy Society to oppose the Te Arawa partnership plan being promoted by Mayor Steve Chadwick.

Copyright © 2014, UMA Broadcasting Ltd: www.waateanews.com

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