A Word from the Mayor
7 March 2019
Local Government NZ is currently leading a discussion about the desirability of returning to ‘Localism’ or ‘Subsidiarity’ (Mana Whakahaere) as a better model of democracy to govern our Society.
The principles of Localism/ Subsidiarity are; the higher governing body should only become involved where the local community and its constituent parts, including its organisations and citizens cannot meet their needs by themselves, and, where matters are handled by the smallest, lowest and least centralised competent authority in the community.
These principles should not be a new concept for anyone, I’m sure I’m not alone in holding these principles dear, and having a natural instinct to fear, resist, and be suspicious of amalgamation and centralisation.
Before European settlement, to the best of my understanding, Maori governed themselves from the bottom up, (Localism) the hierarchy being the individual, the Whanau/extended family, the Hapu/subtribe, the Iwi/tribe, the Waka/canoe, i.e. the Nation. The link between each level of governance was bridged by Kaumatua, Rangatira and Ariki, all leaders at their respective level.
There was no concept of Central Government, or central control of the local Environment/Hapu, which was taken care of locally.
As with Maori tradition, early European governance in NZ was not centralised, and with their pioneering spirit they organised themselves into basic units of governance.
One local example was the formation of Road Boards’ consisting of, and funded by several local Run Holders, these were the forerunners of our present Councils.
Both Maori and many non-Maori New Zealanders have deep in their DNA a strong tradition of local self-determination, rugged individualism, and until recently, a can-do attitude.
The questions are, what functions are best carried out at each level of governance, from the individual, through to national Government level. The regular demands for national governance to provide nationwide consistency often delivers one size fits all disasters. Many more interesting discussions for another day!
Our shining example of ‘Localism’ at its best, is our new Waiau swimming pool, driven and delivered by the local community, assisted by, but not dictated by a higher Authority.
Most significantly, they substantially did it themselves, it wasn’t provided, and funded for them by a higher Authority.