Wards back on the agenda

Waipā District Councillors have 10 weeks to determine whether or not to introduce a Māori ward at the 2022 local body elections – but individually  most have yet to announce where they stand.

The News has emailed every councillor on the issue for three weeks and to date eight have offered no view or said they have yet to decide.

It is understood the ward issue will be discussed next Tuesday at a Service Delivery meeting. Councillors also discussed Māori representation at a workshop ahead of the legislation change to remove the power to overturn Māori ward decisions via a referendum.

Councillor Philip Coles told the News after the initial workshop councillors were in favour of a discusson starting on the issue.

Neighbouring councils such as Waikato and South Waikato district councils have already decided to stick with their present representation system.

And as we reveal today, there is a recommendation for Matamata-Piako to set up such a ward.

Waipā voted to put iwi representatives on their four main standing committees this term.

Here’s what councillors have said so far:

Mayor Jim Mylchreest – “In my view gaining an iwi perspective is invaluable in all decision making and as a community we need to be inclusive if we are to get the best results for all of our community.

“Is it not time that we look to change the system for the benefit of all of us?”

Liz Stolwyk – “ Any vote I would make going forward would be based on a suitable and robust process of selection.”

Elwyn Andree-Wiltens –  “I am not prepared to say how I would vote on the issue of Maori wards until I have seen the proposed changes to the Act and received all relevant information.”

Marcus Gower – “I would vote for a Maori ward, as long as there was a reduction in councillors first as I feel that Waipa Council now has too many.”

Susan O’Regan –  “I would vote for the establishment of a Māori Ward as I did when it came before us last.

Roger Gordon –  “The concept of a Maori Ward for Waipā District Council I would vote against. I believe that local people in our local communities should be the ones who make the decision on who they wish to represent them. Although I hold this view currently, I will wait until I see the final form of the national legislation before I confirm my position.

Mike Pettit –  “If you make a knee-jerk reaction, to something that deserves the mana of needing more understanding and knowledge… chances are you will get a sore knee.”

Andrew Brown –  “Adding a Māori ward to ensure representation from a significant proportion of our population seems like an excellent way to further improve our decision making.

Philip Coles – “There is a process that we have to go through to give it justice, at the end of the day it will be the community who decides.”

Hazel Barnes called the News to indicate she supported the concept of Māori wards.

Clare St Pierre, Lou Brown, Bruce Thomas and Graham Webber had not responded to the News at the time of going to press last week.

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