Via Waipā District Council:
Waipā District Council will establish its first ever Māori ward in time for the next local body election.
Council made the decision at an Extraordinary Council meeting today, following community consultation during April.
Today’s meeting heard Council received 879 submissions on the establishment of a Maori ward over a four-week consultation period. Of those submissions, 84 per cent supported a Waipā Māori ward with 16 per cent against.
Of submissions from within the Waipā district, 73 per cent supported a Māori ward.
The decision means one Māori ward, covering the whole Waipā district, will be in place for the 2022 and 2025 elections. A Māori ward will remain in place unless a future Council decides to remove it.
Voters on the Māori electoral roll can vote for a candidate contesting the Waipā Māori ward, rather than for a candidate contesting a general ward. Māori ward candidates do not need to be on the Māori electoral role.
Mayor Jim Mylchreest said today that all Waipā Councillors, whether elected in a general ward or Māori ward, would continue to be charged with representing the interests
of the whole district, not just one portion of the population or one geographical area.
He also noted that, based on the 2018 census, 15 per cent of people in Waipā identify as Māori.
“The consultation feedback suggests to me that there is far broader support for a Māori ward among the wider community than some people might have expected; that’s certainly what I’ve picked up and I’m heartened by that,” he said.
“Māori are our Treaty partners and we have an obligation to incorporate Māori perspectives in decision-making and ensure we encourage Māori participation and representation.
There are huge benefits for all of us and for our whole district in doing that. Today’s decision is the right decision for the entire Waipā community.”
Today’s decision to establish a Māori would not impact upon the four iwi representatives (Te Konohi) who currently have full voting rights on four Waipā District Council committees. The current Te Konohi appointments will run until October 22.