INVERCARGILL City Council’s (ICC) mana whenua appointees will be paid the same amount as other councillors.
Last month, ICC appointed Pania Coote, of Te Runanga o Awarua, and Evelyn Cook, of Waihopai Runaka, as the council’s mana whenua representatives but their remuneration was still to be decided.
A report by ICC legal counsel, Michael Morris, was presented to councillors during this week’s council meeting in which he outlined three options.
The first one was to set the honorarium at a level of a councillor at $34,667.00 yearly; the second was a payment of $20,000 per annum taking in consideration the estimation of 10 hours of work per week to cover any meetings and workshops; and a third alternative, which was labelled as a midway option, of $27,000.
With 10 votes in favour, councillors decided to adopt the first option but not without a debate.
Deputy mayor Nobby Clark said he thought the council should go with the second option and highlighted his concerns.
He was still unsure if the mana whenua representatives could also speak on behalf of Maata Waka tribe and other wider iwi groups, he said.
He believed ICC should follow the example of the Canterbury Regional Council which paid the same honorarium to councillors and appointees, but the cost of the last one was shared equally between the council and Ngai Tahu.
“I wonder why we haven’t approached Ngai Tahu about that, given the partnership is not only about we wanting to hear their voice [but] they wanting to be part of our group as well.”
He said, based on his calculations, he believed the first, the $34,667 option, would mean an hourly rate higher than that of chief executive Clare Hadley, if taking into consideration the estimate they would work about 10 hours a month.
Cr Darren Ludlow said ICC was in a “honeymoon” period with mana whenua and it was unfortunate the discussion of the money had to be raised so early on.
However, he did not think it was a great way to start the relationship, which he described as overdue, by “going low”.
Breaking the figures into hourly rates as Cr Clark had was a bit of “smoke and mirrors” as there was a lot more than recognising the mana of the relationship, he said.
Cr Lesley Soper agreed with him and highlighted the decision covered only the end of the term, the 12-month period until the next election, as the new council would have to revisit the subject when elected.
Cr Ian Pottinger suggested to council to write to the Minister of Local Government and LGNZ seeking the mana whenua remuneration to be included in the guidance from the Remuneration Authority for next election.
The council approved his amendment and the first option of the honorarium, with Crs Clark, Allan Arnold, Peter Kett opposing it.