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ECan councillor not surprised Ngāi Tahu representation bill voted down

Isobel Prasad
Antoinette Spicer

Environment Canterbury Councillor and Ngāi Tahu representative Iaean Cranwell is disappointed but not shocked a Ngāi Tahu representation bill was voted down during its first reading.

ECan councillors and Ngāi Tahu representatives travelled to Wellington on Wednesday to support the introduction of the Canterbury Regional Council Ngāi Tahu Representation Bill.

The Bill was voted down at its first reading, opposed by New Zealand First, National and ACT MP's.

In 2010, the National-led Government introduced one seat on the Council for iwi representation, which was then re-instated to two seats in 2016. 

Iaean Cranwell, who's been a Ngai Tahu representative on the Ecan Council since 2016, said he is frustrated politicians treated the bill as a political game.

“Before the bill even went to Parliament we knew it would probably lose anyway," Cranwell said.

"For nearly nine years we have had Ngāi Tahu representation at Environment Canterbury. If we had a true partnership between the Crown and Māori we would have equal representation on Council and anything we do," he said.

“If Ngāi Tahu is not at the top table up there driving the bus, we are in the back seat, watching and that's all we will be."

Cranwell also said local body elections have a very low Māori voter turnout, which he believes is not surprising given the lack of Māori representation.

"There is a little saying ‘pale, male, stale’. This is because a lot of local body councils are old retirees who are predominantly pākehā men."

Cranwell said he will run independently in the 2019 election and hopes to be elected.

He is also calling for all Māori to vote in the local elections.