Decision against Māori wards in Hamilton revoked

By Te Ao - Māori News

Hamilton City Council has made a U-turn on its decision to put off the establishment of Māori wards in the city for the 2022 election.

Last week the council voted against introducing Māori wards.

The eight to four vote split came after the government signalled it would introduce legislation upholding council decisions to create Māori wards and remove the ability of public polls triggered by petitions to overturn such moves.

After a meeting between Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate and Waikato-Tainui representatives yesterday, a majority of councillors have formally sought to revoke last week's decision.

Southgate said in a statement that she had realised "how deeply hurt some people had been by the decision” and she did not want to see rifts forming in the community.

“I understand people’s frustration and hurt and I have felt that myself very keenly. But my concern has always been to take people with us,” she said.

The fallout from last week’s decision resulted in Hemi Rau resigning from one of Hamilton City Council's Māngai Māori positions - a key role as a voice for Māori in the community.

Waikato-Tainui

Te Arataura chair Linda Te Aho said it was unfortunate that the council has lost its newest Māngai Māori member and the loss of a Māori voice is something they all need to reflect upon going forward.

“We recognise that last week’s decision has led to tension in our communities and, while we encourage robust debate, it must be respectful and focused on the kaupapa rather than individuals," Te Aho said.

Waikato-Tainui said it would engage with councillors so that they are fully informed of Waikato Tainui’s perspective when they are approached to reconsider their position.

“We have agreed to work together to revoke last week’s decision and confirm another vote before the May 21 deadline and take the time in between to have necessary conversations with the community,”  Te Aho said.

“Waikato-Tainui is encouraged by the outcome of today’s hui and acknowledge that Mayor Southgate was a key supporter of Māori wards and subsequent adoption of them when she was chair of the Waikato Regional Council.”

The notice of revocation will be addressed as part of the council's long-term plan meeting on April 15.