Manawatu council vote against Māori wards dishonours Treaty partnership - Teanau Tuiono

By Te Ao - Māori News

Green Party MP  Teanau Tuiono says the Manawatu District Council’s decision to defer Māori wards until 2023 doesn’t honour the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Tuiono was a Palmerston North mayoralty candidate in 2019 but was unsuccessful.

The council voted 6 to 4 against the introduction of Māori wards, which Tuiono says is a great disappointment. 

"He kore nā tēnei kaunihera ki te … hīkoi kia whakahōnore te Tiriti o Waitangi ki roto ki ō rātou tīkanga kaunihera.”

(It prevents the council starting the journey to honour the Treaty of Waitangi within its own activities.)

He kore nā rātou anō i te mea mēnā kei te whakawātea … tētahi wāri Māori ka hīkina te katoa o ngā mahi, o ngā pūkenga ki roto i tō rātou kaunihera. 

(It is also a loss for them because if they allowed a Māori ward it would raise the standard of work and skills within the council).

Iwi advisory committee                                                           

Manawatū iwi leaders are threatening to quit the council's iwi advisory committee following yesterday's decision. Some left the meeting angry and in tears. 

Tuiono is encouraging the local iwi to fight for a voice on the council.

"Mēnā kāore te whakaaro o te Māori kei roto i ngā mahi a te kaunihera kua hē rawa atu ā rātou nei mahi."

(With no Māori perspective on the work of the council everything they do is pointless.)

Council justifications

The Manawatu District Council says deferring the introduction of Māori wards until 2023 allows community consultation and education about what it means for residents.

It hopes this will lead to widespread support.

The council previously voted to establish a Māori ward in 2017 however the decision was overturned in a binding community referendum because a majority of electors were against this.

However the council will continue to investigate ways Māori views can be better represented on the council.