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Napier City Council votes in favour of Maori wards

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Today the Napier City Council resolved to introduce Maori Wards for the 2025 local body elections. This is an important moment in the history of Napier that next month marks 170 years since the signing of the Ahuriri block purchase by Tareha Te Moananui and other significant tipuna, which enabled the establishment of Napier City. 

The vote was carried 11 votes in favour with one abstention and with strong and resounding support voiced by councillors. 

 

In presenting the motion to implement Maori wards, Mayor Kirsten Wise said although she understood the frustration and disappointment when Maori Wards were not established for the 2022 elections, she had an obligation to provide the full community with opportunity to contribute to the decision. 

 

The five-month consultation period resulted in 1300 submissions being made and although over half wrote against Maori wards, 95% of those on the Maori roll submitted in favour. All those who spoke to their submissions over the two-day hearings were in favour of Maori wards. 

 

"It is important to understand, first, that consultation is not a poll and second considering the content of the submissions is equally if not more important than the volume for or against," Mayor Wise said in her speech today. "We must also consider other factors a such as our statutory obligations and the views of those who are most affected by any changes." 

 

Mayor Wise listed her key reasons for supporting Maori ward implementation. 

1. Guarantees Maori participation in decision-making  

2. Helps enable a stronger bi-cultural perspective for Council planning and decision-making and creates a balance of Te Ao Maori and tau iwi 

3. Provides Maori with a greater voice at the table and enables greater engagement on local issues 

4. Creates a platform for Maori to grow and to have the confidence to put themselves forward as leaders  

5. Builds Maori capacity in the leadership of our city and thus accelerates and broadens the socio-economic capacity 

6. Is inclusive and provides fairness and equity for Maori at the Council table 

7. Honours our obligations under the Local Government Act to enable pathways for Maori contribution to decision making

8. Upholds the principles of The Treaty of Waitangi as Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding document 

 

In summarising their positions, councillors spoke of their personal convictions, their journeys and learnings over the past months in the run up to making a decision. They spoke of the introduction of Maori wards as opening the door to true partnership, adding power and mana to the council, honouring the Treaty of Waitangi and adding ways for Maori representation rather than replacing any that exist already. 

A representational review will now take place, which will decide how many wards will be established and how many councillors will make up Napier City Council.

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