Relations between The Maori Statutory Board and Len Brown, and I guess by extension council, are strained. The board has rejected Len’s offer to negotiate and will instead proceed with Court action. This is unfortunate but understandable.
The council has acted in bad faith. The board engaged an independent consultant and worked alongside council officers in an attempt to formulate a reasonable budget. The budget was then approved by the finance committee. The council, after taking into consideration the political ramifications rather than what is fair and reasonable, then slashed the board’s funding. It is interesting to contrast the behaviour of the council with the good faith in which the Maori Statutory Board acted, up until their budget was savaged of course.
The board will obviously have misgivings about dealing with council again, given the council’s regrettable behaviour. The board will also realise that the council must work within certain political confines. However, the court is not beholden to the uninformed opinions of a few Auckland voters. The council is, for the most part, fixed to the opinions and desires of the majority, whether those opinions and desires are just is less important, comparatively speaking. This is the reality of politics. Given that public opposition to the board’s funding was almost significant, the council will not risk igniting a backlash. With this in mind it is obvious why the board is pushing ahead through the Courts. The Courts will determine the issue according to the facts and the law. No politics. On the other hand the council will take the option likely to cause the least electoral damage.
This should have never been an issue in the first place. The board took adequate steps to ensure their budget was reasonable. The sad reality is that the majority of New Zealanders perceive any Maori empowerment as some sort of unjustified hand out. Privilege if you will. And what is even sadder is that instead of challenging this notion politicians are willing to perpetuate it for political gain.