Ruapehu Council to adopt Māori wards from 2022

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

A clear majority of 10 councillors against two has led the Ruapehu District Council to adopt Māori wards from the 2022 local body elections.

The establishment of Māori wards has the backing of the Ruapehu District Māori Council, which has been reviewing the best way to improve Māori participation in council decision-making.

Mayor Don Cameron was proud of the council's support to introduce Māori seats. He says "This is a brave landmark decision whose time has come.

"It means that we can now start the conversation with our community on our obligations to provide greater recognition and representation to Tangata Whenua on the council and the benefits of doing so."

Though it wasn't a clean sweep of yes votes, Mayor Cameron was happy the council was able to discuss the issue with maturity and respect, which he hopes will be reflected in the response from the wider community.

“The concern of the dissenting councillors was that the decision could be considered race-based and that there are other opportunities for Māori to be involved in the council without establishing Māori wards. The majority of the council felt, however, that on balance it would enhance engagement with Māori upholding the principles of partnership and participation and allow a way for Māori perspectives to help influence council thinking."