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Maori wards welcomed by Palmerston North City Council

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Palmerston North City Council has resolved to establish a Māori ward(s) for the 2022 and 2025 local government elections. This follows the passing of the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act 2021.

It also follows the Council’s decision in 2017 to establish Māori ward(s) after consulting with the community. However, a binding poll held in 2018 overturned this decision.

Deputy Mayor Aleisha Rutherford says yesterday’s vote is a significant step that honours our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, one that reflects our partnership with tangata whenua and respects the wishes of mana whenua.

"We have a fantastic relationship with local iwi and have already benefited from the contributions of Rangitāne at committee, as appointed members share their knowledge and expertise in tikanga Māori. This decision gives those on the Maori roll an opportunity to vote for their representation at the next two local body elections.

"Council has over the last couple of years given priority to progressing a partnership with mana whenua Rangitāne o Manawatū. The iwi has consistently challenged the council to ensure wider Māori community interests are represented and Council can inspire tangata whenua to actively participate in shaping our City

Deputy Mayor Rutherford is referencing the 2019 Palmerston North City Council and Rangitāne Partnership Agreement and Kawenata in relation to the ancestral site of Te Motu o Poutoa, which among other commitments identifies input into Council’s governance and representation, specifies participation in ongoing discussions regarding iwi representation and involvement in Council’s business.

Also, since 2020, Council has had Rangitāne o Manawatū representatives appointed to four formal council committees: Rangitāne o Manawatū, Community Development, Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability. Appointed members have full voting rights at committee, however, the Local Government Act does not allow for Appointed Members to sit as Council members.

What happens now?

As Council has resolved to establish Māori wards, a representation review is now automatically triggered. A representation review would look at Palmerston North’s overall approach to electing councillors by considering the structure of wards, alongside the number of councillors, the names of the wards and whether community boards should be established.

The Local Electoral Act sets out the calculation which determines the number of Māori ward councillors. The calculation is based on the number of Māori and general electors in the City, related to the number of councillors.

Palmerston North in 2021 (based on the Statistics New Zealand population estimates as of June 2020), is expected to have one or two Māori ward seats depending on the number of total councillor seats in the Māori and general wards.

The representation review consultation is expected to take place in August 2021.

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