The Hastings District Council has started a public feedback process to establish Māori wards following an emergency meeting today.
The council has accepted a recommendation by the Heretaunga Takoto Noa Māori standing committee to consider Māori wards for the 2022 local body elections.
Committee chair Robin Hape is hopeful a satisfactory decision will be reached before the transition period deadline on May 21.
"I tīmata mai tā tātou nei wero i te tau rua mano tekau mā whā, ka puta te wero ki te kaunihera i taua wā, a, ka haere tonu ngā kōrero tae noa ki te wā rua mano tekau mā iwa."
(We laid down this challenge in 2014. That was when we began challenging the council, and it carried on right up until 2019).
Strengthen Māori voice
After changes to the Local Electoral Act 2001, were brought in by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, which give councils a transition period ending on May 21, 2021, to consider establishing Māori wards at the 2022 local government elections, the Heretaunga Takoto Noa Māori standing committee felt it was time to make a recommendation to the council.
Robin Hape says the committee is looking to improve the voice of Māori in council decisionmaking.
"E tautoko ana ngā kaikaunihera e tū ake inaianei, ko Ngāi Māori kei roto rā ki Henare (Henare O'Keefe), ki a Baden (Baden Barber), ki a ētahi atu, ko rātou kei roto rā he waha kōrero mō tō rātou nei hāpori, engari kei te hiahia mātou ki te huakina te kuaha ki ngā Māori katoa i roto i te rohe hei pōti hei tū kia hari ngā moemoeā ā Ngāi Māori kei roto i te tēpu ā te kaunihera."
(We support the councillors who stand for us now, as well as the Māori councillors Henare O'Keefe, Baden Barber and others who are in there speaking on behalf of their communities but we want the door to be pulled wide open for all Māori in the region to be able to vote and bring the aspirations of Māori to the table in council).