New wards: the pitfalls for councillors

The reluctance of Waipā District Councillors to openly discuss their views on Māori representation is not completely surprising.

Nationally a vocal lobby has historically taken issue with councils who see to add Māori wards – or even add macrons to Māori words.

Their decision to set up Te Kanohi, which comprises four iwi representatives who are placed on standing committees with voting rights, drew criticism from some quarters.

Backing Māori wards can come at a cost. New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd elected to fall on his sword in 2016 after his push for wards was trounced 83%-17% in a referendum.

The chances of a referendum backing Māori seats were always paper thin, and councillors who backed them risked a backlash.

Part of the irony of that was the fact that creating an extra seat would hit those councillors in the pocket. The funding available for councillors does not rise simply because there are more wards.

So any council which votes for a Māori ward will have to redistribute remuneration to pay for the new councillor.
The move to appoint iwi to standing committees has found favour with some council in Waikato and is a move backed by Waikato-Tainui.

Māori wards are not necessarily the first choice for some iwi.
Ōtorohanga District Council made the point to the News that local iwi did not want Māori wards.

It’s suggested that some see an advantage in being able to hand pick iwi representatives to ensure a Māori perspective is a constant at council level.

Despite that, the number of district councils with Māori wards is going to jump from three to at least a dozen in 2022.

Whangārei, South Taranaki, Kaipara, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Ruapehu and Taupō districts, Tauranga City Council and Northland Regional Council have all voted to introduce them.

More Recent News

Population issues raised at health forum

The Waikato DHB has praised local communities for moves to take ownership of their own health, and has pledged to support such initiatives, but is concerned about issues relating to population growth and Covid-19 vaccine…

Wave of support for staff: council chief

Waipā District Council chief executive Garry Dyet says the exposure given in last week’s News to abusive on-line comments prompted an outpouring of support. Cr Susan O’Regan prefaced a discussion on plans for Te Awamutu’s…

Wilder adventures ahead for teacher

James Gray Kindergarten’s head teacher Eleanor Wilder is retiring at the end of this term, stepping down from a role she has held – and loved – for 22 years. “I still have the energy…

Restoration work on war graves begins

A restoration project aimed at protecting Cambridge’s war graves is underway, and RSA member Alan Sherris wants to hear from families either linked to the graves or interested in the restoration programme itself. The move…