Should Horowhenua Introduce a Māori Ward?

Feedback closed on May 04, 2021, 05:00 PM

Have your say on the Maori Ward.

Me Horowhenua Whakauru i Te Paroita Māori?

The intention of Māori Wards is to provide a way for councils to achieve fairer representation of Māori members of their communities, and ensure greater Māori participation and input into council decision making processes.

Māori Wards and constituencies are the local government equivalent of the Māori parliamentary electorates. They are called ‘Wards’ at city and district councils and ‘constituencies’ at regional councils.

Under the Local Electoral Act 2001, councils decide their own representation arrangements, including whether to establish Māori and/or general Wards and constituencies.

Māori Ward Options

There is no obligation on councils to consider Māori Wards or constituencies as a result of the recent legislative change.

The following options were available to Horowhenua District Council.

Option A

Council chooses to retain the status quo and have no Māori Wards for the 2022 elections.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • No staff or other Council resources are required
  • This option enables Council plenty of time to engage with its Iwi partners ahead of the 2024-25 representation review, for the 2025 elections.
  • Relying on Māori candidates standing in General Wards provides no guarantee that a Māori councillor will be elected.
  • Lack of Māori representation increases the likelihood that Council decision making does not reflect the views and outcomes sought by Māori.
  • Lost opportunity to further Māori participation in local government and decision making.
  • Possible damage to the Council/Iwi relationship as Council is not demonstrating its commitment to partnership.
  • Less adherence to the principles of partnership, participation, protection and practice under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • Has potential to bring about an adverse reaction in the community where there is support to establish a Māori Ward.

Option B

Council chooses to establish a Māori Ward for the 2022 and 2025 elections.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Recognises Council’s obligations under the LGA to increase participation of Māori in decision making and to recognise the diversity of its communities.
  • Consistent with the principles under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  • Ensures a Māori voice in the community is heard where fair representation may not otherwise be achieved.
  • Recognises that non-Māori cannot fully represent the Māori position regarding issues at the table.
  • Consistent with the Local Electoral Act 2001 to consider the principle of fair and effective representation for individuals and communities.
  • Aligned with Council’s commitment to on-going development of the capacity of Māori to contribute to Council’s decision making processes.
  • Strengthens relationship between Māori and Council.
  • Has potential to bring about an adverse reaction in the community where there is opposition to establishing a Māori Ward.

Decision to establish a Māori Ward

The survey attracted 227 responses; the majority (178) indicated they were in support of establishing a Māori Ward. Members of the public were invited to speak at the May 19 Extraordinary meeting of Council and the response was universally in favour.

Councillors voted unanimously to support the establishment of a Māori Ward, which will take effect for the 2022 and 2025 elections.

For Horowhenua District Council, we would have one Māori Ward Councillor based on the calculation set out in the Local Electoral Act 2001. If a Māori Ward was established in Horowhenua:

  • Voters on the Māori electoral roll would vote for a candidate contesting a Māori Ward rather than candidates contesting a general Ward
  • Voters on the General electoral roll would continue to vote for candidates contesting general Wards
  • Everyone could vote for the Mayor and community board members
  • Māori Ward candidates would not need to be on the Māori electoral roll
  • A Māori Ward Councillor, like every other Councillor and the Mayor, would have just one vote around the Council table.

Any council that decides to establish Māori Wards must then complete a representation review to propose how many councillors it will have at the next election and the boundaries for any Wards. Any such representation review would be subject to a separate consultation exercise with the community.

Locally, the level of Māori representation in the Council since 1989 has been varied and not proportionate to the Māori population of Horowhenua. It’s vital that there is an appropriate representation of the community at our Council table to make decisions that impact all parts of the Horowhenua community.

The benefits of having a Māori Ward for Horowhenua could potentially be:

  • A Māori Ward would help bring forward the views and aspirations of whanau, hapu and iwi on Council matters
  • A Māori Ward would help to ensure local decision making is fairer and more inclusive
  • A Māori Ward would represent a sector of the community that is generally underrepresented at the Council table.

The principles of partnership, participation and protection underpin the relationship between Council and Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Partnership involves working together with iwi, hapu, whanau and Māori communities to develop strategies and structure for Maori involvement in decision making.

Participation requires Māori to be involved at all levels of the local government sector, including decision making, planning, development and delivery of services.