The Auckland Māori consultation hui on state asset sales took place yesterday at Tainui’s Airport Novotel under heavy police and Māori warden presence. The hui revealed universal dissatisfaction from Māori about the government’s plans, but also exposed important class divisions within Māoridom itself.
In his opening presentation, Minister for SOEs Tony Ryall stated that the controversial Section 9 will stay in the SOE Act, and that the government had “got the message on that.” Section 9 provides that “nothing in this Act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.” Whilst the audience made it clear that Section 9 should also apply to the new legislation enabling partial sell-offs of state assets, the debate that followed rapidly broke out of the bureaucratic parameters that the government had laid down for the hui.
A Mana Movement member asked Ryall what guarantees that, after these sell-offs, the government wouldn’t sell more. His response was that the government only had a mandate to sell a 49% stake in each of the power companies, and the rest of its stake in Air New Zealand. The questioner replied that they were already privatising further by selling off state housing in her neighbourhood of Glen Innes. Ryall reiterated that the general election had given them a mandate, whereupon a Workers Party member interjected that “one million non-voters is not a mandate!”