Should Waipā Introduce a Māori Ward?
Me Waipā Whakauru i Te Paroita Māori?
It’s time to have your say!
Māori wards provide a way for councils to achieve fairer representation of Māori members of their communities, and ensure greater Māori participation and input into council decision-making processes.
Māori wards and constituencies are the local government equivalent of the Māori parliamentary electorates. They are called “wards” at city and district councils and “constituencies” at regional councils.
Under the Local Electoral Act 2001, councils decide their own representation arrangements, including whether to establish Māori and/or general wards and constituencies.
Currently, Waipā District Council has no councillors that identify as Māori, despite Māori making up about 15 per cent of the Waipā population (2018 Census).
In 2017, Council decided to look at alternative options for engagement with Māori rather than establish a Māori ward.
In late 2020, four iwi representatives, known as Te Kanohi, were appointed to four formal Committees of Waipā District Council to:
- Bring a Māori world view to each Committee; and
- Be a voice for mana whenua interests across the district.
Representatives have voting rights on their respective Committees.
Nationally, the Government has made its strong desire for better Māori representation at the local government level very clear. Councils also have clear obligations to Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi and under the Local Government Act.
Recent changes to legislation mean Waipā District Council and other councils can consider whether they wish to establish a Māori ward for the 2022 elections, without the potential for a binding poll generated by just 5 per cent of electors.*
Each council is responsible for deciding whether it will have Māori wards or constituencies at its elections.
As part of a wider review of political arrangements for elections in October 2022, Waipā District Council is consulting with the community about whether or not a Māori ward should be established.
*A binding poll has never been an option when establishing general wards; polls were only ever an option for Māori wards.
How do Māori wards work?
For Waipā District Council, we would have one Māori ward Councillor based on the calculation set out in the Local Electoral Act 2001. If a Māori ward was established in Waipā:
- Voters on the Māori electoral roll would vote for a candidate contesting a Māori ward rather than candidates contesting a general ward
- Voters on the general electoral roll would continue to vote for candidates contesting general wards
- Everyone could vote for the mayor, at-large councillors (if any) and community board members (if any)
- Māori ward candidates would not need to be on the Māori electoral roll
- A Māori ward Councillor, like every other Councillor, would have just one vote around the Council table.
Any council that decides to establish Māori wards must then complete a representation review to propose how many councillors it will have at the next election and the boundaries for any wards. Any such representation review would be subject to a separate consultation exercise with the community.
Why have a Māori ward?
Locally, the level of Māori representation in the Council since 1989 has been very limited and not proportionate to the Māori population of Waipā. It’s vital that there is an appropriate representation of the community at our Council table to make decisions that impact all parts of the Waipā community.
The benefits of having a Māori ward for Waipā are:
- A Māori ward would help bring forward the views and aspirations of whānau, hapū and iwi on Council matters.
- A Māori ward would help to ensure local decision-making is fairer and more inclusive.
- A Māori ward would represent a sector of the community that is currently not represented at the Council table
- A Māori ward would provide stronger Māori representation as Waipā continues to learn more about its heritage and history.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi
The principles of partnership, participation and protection underpin the relationship between Council and Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Partnership involves working together with iwi, hapū, whānau and Māori communities to develop strategies and structure for Māori involvement in decision-making.
Participation requires Māori to be involved at all levels of the local government sector, including decision-making, planning, development and delivery of services.
Protection involves the Council working to ensure Māori involvement in decision-making processes, and safeguarding Māori cultural concepts, values and practices.
Local government, including Waipā District Council, is legally obliged to provide an environment (through systems, structures, and services) that encourages and supports Māori to enter and participate in local governance processes. One way of doing this is via Māori wards.
Māori Ward Options
There is no obligation on councils to consider Māori wards or constituencies as a result of the recent legislative change.
The following options are available to Council.
Council chooses to retain the status quo and have no Māori wards for the 2022 and 2025 elections.
No staff or other Council resources are requiredThis option enables Council to wait and take advantage of the new way for establishing Māori wards, which is due to be put in place for the 2025 elections.
Relying on Māori candidates standing in general wards provides no guarantee that a Māori councillor will be elected
Lack of Māori representation increases the likelihood that Council decision-making does not reflect the views and outcomes sought by Māori
Lost opportunity to further Māori participation in decision making
Possible damage to the Council/Iwi relationship as Council not demonstrating its commitment to partnership.
Less adherence to the principles of partnership, participation, protection and practice under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Has potential to bring about an adverse reaction in some sections of the community that support the establishment of Māori Wards
Council chooses to establish a Māori ward for the 2022 and 2025 elections.
Recognises Council’s obligations under the LGA to increase participation of Māori in decision making and to recognise the diversity of its communities.
Consistent with the principles under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Ensures Māori voices in the community are heard where otherwise representation would be hard to achieve.
Recognises that non-Māori cannot fully represent the Māori position regarding issues at the table.
Consistent with the Local Electoral Act 2001 to consider principle of fair and effective representation for individuals and communities.
Aligned with Council’s commitment to on-going development of the capacity of Māori to contribute to Council’s decision-making processes.
Strengthens Council’s relationship with Māori.
potential to bring about an adverse reaction in some sections of the community
that opposes the establishment of Māori wards
We want to know what you think
Consultation with the community opens on Wednesday, 17 March and closes at 5pm on Monday, 19 April 2021.
Waipā District Council is seeking your feedback on the options outlined. The feedback form overleaf allows you to have your say on what option you prefer for Waipā.
You can provide feedback by:
- Fill in our survey here
- Emailing email@example.com (Please write ‘Māori wards feedback’ in the subject line)
- Posting the form overleaf to Waipā District Council, Private Bag 2402, Te Awamutu 3840 (Attn: Māori wards feedback)
- Dropping the form overleaf to Council offices at 101 Bank St, Te Awamutu or 23 Wilson St, Cambridge.