Kāpiti Coast District Council has voted to establish a Māori ward ahead of the 2025 local body elections.
Councillor Martin Halliday, representative on Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti, moved the motion, saying that the decision would only enhance the strong relationship that council has with mana whenua.
“This is a step in an ongoing journey about relationships that is part of the fabric of who we are as New Zealanders in Aotearoa, and it will be a journey that is with us always.”
Mayor Janet Holborow said that councillors carefully considered the comments and thoughts of all of those who responded to the survey.
“While the overall result of the feedback from our communities was not in favour of a Māori ward, the breakdown of the results showed strong support from younger respondents.
“These rangatahi are the future of our district. We want to encourage them to have their say on civic and democratic matters, so they need to see that we are listening to them.
“The community engagement also highlighted that those on the Māori electoral role, who are most directly affected by this decision, were more supportive of establishing a Māori role compared to those not on the Māori role.”
“We’ve committed to be a Council that listens, and that means listening to mana whenua and our wider Māori community, and drilling down below the surface results,” Mayor Holborow said.
“We need to communicate clearly that when we seek feedback, it’s not just about yes or no answers but the content and quality of arguments that elected members respond to.”
Te Whakaminenga o Kapiti representative Kim Tahiwi previously told Council that many Māori hadn’t responded but that Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, who represent mana whenua, were in support of any
change that increases Māori representation either locally or nationally.
The decision to proceed with the establishment of a Māori ward triggers a representation review, which must take place next year if the Māori ward is to be in place for the 2025 election.
Council would receive further advice on next steps in due course, Mayor Holborow said.