Even though time and time again referenda have shown that most New Zealanders are opposed to race-based voting systems, 24 local authorities have recently either made the decision to proceed with Māori wards or have indicated an intention to do so. In addition to those mentioned in the April edition of the Democracy Action newsletter, the following have voted to proceed down this path:
HAMILTON CITY COUNCIL
Hamilton City Council has revoked an earlier decision and will consider creating Māori wards in time for the next election. Currently the Council is undertaking community engagement on the wards and other ways to increase Māori representation on council. The public have until May 10 to have a say. The final decision will be made on May 19.
Waatea News: Hamilton starts consultation on Māori wards
HORIZONS REGIONAL COUNCIL (Manawatū-Whanganui Region)
The Council is asking the community whether Council should have Māori representation through a survey. Horizons Chair Rachel Keedwell: "To help us gauge an appetite, we have sent out a short survey to those enrolled on the Māori electoral roll as they’re the most affected”. This survey is also available online for anyone to complete before 8am Monday 10 May. This, and further information including frequently asked questions are available online at https://haveyoursay.horizons.govt.nz
N.B. This ward is in addition to a recent decision to appoint iwi representatives with full voting rights to the Horizons climate committee formed by the council.
NZ Herald: 3 April: Iwi representatives to have full voting rights on Horizons climate committee
HASTINGS CITY COUNCIL
At a Hastings City Council emergency meeting held on April 22, councillors agreed to start consulting with the community on Māori wards. People have until May 12 to give their feedback on whether or not they support Māori wards on the www.myvoicemychoice.co.nz website, or via forms that will be available at the Hastings District Council administration building on Lyndon Rd East, as well as the Hastings, Flaxmere and Havelock North libraries. Several meetings with local marae had also been planned during this time.
Hastings District Council website: Consultation on Māori wards in Hastings district begins tomorrow
INVERCARGILL CITY COUNCIL
Māori ward to be considered on 11 May. Share your views with the Mayor and councillors asap. Click here to find their email addresses
MARLBOROUGH DISTRICT COUNCIL
The Marlborough Council is considering the establishment of a Māori ward. The Council will seek the views of Marlborough’s eight iwi on whether they support the creation of a Māori ward. Mayor John Leggett: “The public will be able to share their views before any final decision is made”.
Although the Council is actively seeking the views of iwi, a phone call to the Council revealed that there is no formal process for the wider community to provide feedback. To share your views with the council, contact the Mayor and councillors asap – the decision will be made before May 21. Click here to find their email addresses.
N.B. The council has also invited members from Marlborough’s eight iwi to be part of their committees, and are recruiting a Kaitakawaenga Iwi Liaison Manager “to help us enhance our relationships with our iwi partners.” Mayor John Leggett “we talk to our iwi partners about all aspects of Council’s work”.
Marlborough District Council: Marlborough’s representation review will consider a Māori ward
Waatea News: Marlborough looks at implications of a Maori Ward
MATAMATA-PIAKO DISTRICT COUNCIL
Despite already having in place a standing committee established as a formal process of representation for Māori within the district, Matamata-Piako District Council recently voted to also establish a Māori ward. While some councillors agreed consultation was essential, it was moved by Deputy Mayor Neil Goodger that council would not undertake consultation with the wider community, despite the controversial move. Te Aroha Councillor Russell Smith, who abstained, said because he was unable to go out for consultation and follow what the people in Te Aroha want, he was unable to vote either way. “By not going out for consultation, we’re not being transparent, consultation is important to me”. Council took guidance from Te Manawhenua Forum, which unanimously supported the establishment of Māori wards. (The Forum membership consists of 12 Iwi representatives, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor).
District Mayor Ash Tanner said council knows not going out for consultation would be unpopular, but the public isn’t directly affected by it.
RANGITĪKEI DISTRICT COUNCIL
From next year, Rangitīkei will have at least one Māori representative on its council. Councillors cited treaty obligations and a positive recommendation from Te Rōpū Ahi Kā, the council’s advisory committee of iwi, hapū and marae representatives, as the reasons behind their vote. Cr Fi Falgatey said adopting the ward would be in line with Treaty obligations. For partnership to occur, Māori “have to be at the table”. (Currently there are already three Māori councillors).
N.B. At this stage the council would retain Te Rōpū Ahi Kā, a member from which sits on every council committee.
Manawatu Standard: Māori wards introduced in Rangitīkei ahead of next year's election
The pressure is also coming on other councils ‘to fall into line’.
FAR NORTH DISTRICT COUNCIL
Cr. Moko Tepania (Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa/Te Rarawa) is forcing a special extraordinary council meeting on Monday May 3 with a notice of motion to his council that it once again consider Māori wards. (Tepania is FNDC's Te Ao Māori portfolio holder and member of Local Government New Zealand's Te Maruata group for Māori in governance in local government).
STOP PRESS - NZ Herald: Far North District Council votes for Māori wards
The councillors have been slammed for being the only council in Taranaki that hasn’t voted to establish a Māori ward. In a heated discussion after a recent public meeting to discuss the long-term plan at Stratford’s Whaakahurangi Marae, elected members were heavily criticised for their decision against establishing a Māori ward for the 2022 elections. (Which begs the question - at what point does lobbying turn into bullying - as has recently happened in Hamilton, according to Deputy Mayor Taylor).
Other councils that have recently voted to establish Māori ward/s include the Palmerston North, Tauranga, and Wellington City Councils; the Horowhenua, Kaipara, New Plymouth, Ōtorohanga, Ruapehu, Gisborne, Whangarei, Taupo, South Taranaki, Waipa, Whakatane and Kaikoura District Councils; and the Northland and Taranaki Regional Councils.
While the deadline for having a say to this list of councils through a formal process has now passed, (that is, those who bothered to consult), this does not preclude voicing your views directly to the Mayors and councillors. If you live in any of these areas, please do – otherwise your silence could be construed as consent.
For a summary of the status of Māori wards and constituencies across the country, please click HERE.
MAORI WARDS - ONE SMALL STEP?
The establishment of Māori wards is just one of the avenues local bodies are using to formally include Māori citizens in councils’ arrangements. A LGNZ Report on Māori/Council engagement (2017) recorded that there are 78 councils, 81 per cent of which have structured arrangements with iwi (using the term iwi and Māori interchangeably). Of these, the “decision-making” arrangements represented 56 per cent of councils’ arrangements. The most common grouping is a relationship agreement such as MoUs (used by 40 per cent of councils). The purpose of these varies, from simply establishing an intent to work together, requiring the parties to act in good faith, to decision-making in resource consents and plan making or over specific projects. Co-governance or joint management agreements are used by 23 percent of councils. These agreements are in place both at a governance and operational level. In more recent times there has been a movement towards more formalised agreements and entities which provide for local authorities and Māori to work together in decision-making and other processes. These agreements tend to move beyond the relationship type agreement/MoU and into firmer commitments relating to specific statutory processes and decision-making. One example is the joint management agreements (JMA) that are provided for under section 36B of the RMA.
This report is now nearly four years old. Specific Iwi/Māori involvement in local bodies has grown exponentially since this was released. After Taupō District Council voted in favour of Māori wards, Mayor David Trevawas said:
"This is yet another step in the right direction that strengthens our relationship with iwi and shows the council's commitment to partnership. Of course, this is a continually evolving process and there is always more work to be done to strengthen relationships and improve Māori representation, and we have made a commitment to continue to do that alongside our iwi partners." He added that "In 2019, we established Māori representatives on council committees, and this will continue”.
Another recent example is that of Wellington City Council. Two iwi – Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui and Ngāti Toa Rangatira – are to have representatives with voting rights on all but the chief executive review committee from July. This decision, which will dramatically increase iwi representation in the capital, was done without consulting the public and is in addition to the recent decision to establish a Māori ward. Councillors Diane Calvert and Malcolm Sparrow expressed concerns about the council ignoring usual processes by appointing unelected members. Māori partnerships portfolio leader Councillor Jill Day (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) said after the decision “This is just a small step, but we need to make a start.”
Rotorua Daily Post: Taupō District Council reaffirms establishing Māori wards