Six years after the last attempt to create a Māori ward at the New Plymouth District Council failed, the council has abruptly changed its mind, to cheers of jubilation from a large crowd.
But last time the council voted for a Māori ward, a $71,400 citizens-initiated referendum overturned the plan – and mayor Andrew Judd stepped down in disappointment. Another referendum may yet be on the cards.
The council had been looking at four options but councillor Sam Bennett moved to establish a ward immediately. He told his fellow councillors to “be brave.” After much argument, the council voted 12-2 with one abstention for the ward and the council chamber erupted with cheers. Hugs and hongi were seen all round including former mayor Judd.
"Not all of Taranaki North agreed with New Plymouth District Council's decision. It only takes one person to set up a referendum so we'll wait and see," Tamzyn Pue from Te Reo Irirangi o Te Korimako told Tapatahi today.