Why mana whenua are more than just another stakeholder
9 February 2023
Before Christmas, some elected members and councils received a message from an organisation known as Hobson’s Pledge.
The message argued that LGNZ was providing councils with misleading advcie regarding their obligations to Māori.
The group’s major complaint concerned advice in LGNZ’s Guide to Standing Orders that suggested how standing orders could be used to strengthen relationships between councils and mana whenua. Of particular concern was the statement that iwi and hapū, as the traditional governors of land, have a mandate that is different to the “stakeholder” status given to many other organisations.
Since the early 1990 councils and mana whenua organisations, both iwi and hapū, have been building and formalising relationships that recognise each other’s mandate and set out processes for governing those relationships. Indeed, by 2017, when we last surveyed councils, more than 80 per cent of councils had entered into some formal agreement recognising the status and mandate of the mana whenua in their respective rohe.
Consequently, relationships that acknowledge the special status of mana whenua are nothing new, nor are they unconstitutional.
It is important to note that relationships with mana whenua do not diminish the relationships that councils may have with other organisations, whether these are voluntary organisations, business associations or other stakeholders.
For those who are not familiar with the Guide to Standing Orders, it’s a guide, consisting of good practice tips, to assist councils when applying for standing orders and is mostly used by staff who advise committee, board and governing body chairs.