Hastings District Council votes yes to Māori wards

By Te Ao - Māori News

Hastings District Council will now start representation review, having today decided to establish Māori wards.

This follows an emergency meeting held in late April as the council decided to gather feedback and public opinion on establishing Māori wards.

The proposal was publicised, between April 23 and May 12, through print media, radio, social media, face-to-face and other channels to garner responses from locals. In the end, a total of 2,089 responses were received, with a majority 76% in support and 24% against.

The main themes in submissions against the proposal were that the current system was working, with Māori councillors elected on their merits by everybody, and that establishing wards on the basis of race was separatist and created an “us and them” division.

Those in support said Māori wards would honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, acknowledge mana whenua, ensure a Māori perspective in the council chamber, remove barriers for representation and improve working partnerships.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the decision made today was the first opportunity to try partnership as it was intended in the Treaty of Waitangi.

“This is setting the scene and putting the mechanisms in place for our future generations to work in harmony together and have equal voices at the table," she says. "I'm really proud that we have grasped this opportunity."

Ngāti Kahungunu chair Ngahiwi Tomoana says he was proud to be living in Heretaunga today.

“I don’t say that very often … this is great for iwi, hapū and all those who have passed on.”

The next step was a representation review, which included determining the total number of councillors, whether all councillors are elected from wards or a mix of wards and at-large, and the names and boundaries of any wards.

It's a publically notified process with an initial proposal to go out for consultation by August 31 this year.

The deadline for the Local Government Commission to make a determination if any appeals or objections are received is April 11 next year.