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Otago Regional Council vote to include iwi representatives

The Otago Regional Council have voted in favour to include iwi representatives on its policy committee.

Council chair Stephen Woodhead said the inclusion of the representatives was a "win-win" in enhancing decision making, "with respect to experience and knowledge and understanding of the process we're working though and, of course, add an iwi flavour to our discussions".

"Iwi have indicated if we do extend an invite to them, they will look for people with RMA (Resource Management Act) expertise and able to assist us... at an early stage of our processes," Mr Woodhead said.

The two iwi representatives, chosen by Ngāi Tahu would be able to vote along with the other council members on policy, however the decisions would still need to be ratified by the council members. 

The move sparked criticism from Otago regional councillor Michael Laws, who was against the timing, principle and practicality of iwi inclusion. 

He said it should be an issue for the incoming council after local body elections, "that's the proper way to do it".

"What you are doing with this piece of legislation is actually excluding non-iwi Māori from the role you think you are.

"They're here to promote the interests of Ngāi Tahu, I have problems with that. You're not elected by Otago, you're setting policy for Otago but you're only going to favour one small portion of our community."

Mr Laws said Māori wards had already been "unanimously " rejected. 

He, along with Graeme Bell and Sam Neill voted against the move. It was out numbered by a 7-3 vote in favour.

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    “You're only going to favour one small portion of our community,” Mr Laws said. Source: 1 NEWS