Wellington City Council votes for Māori wards

By Te Ao - Māori News

Wellington City Council will establish a Māori ward at the 2022 council elections, in an overwhelming 13-2 vote in favour.

Staff on the council provided the strategy and policy committee with feedback obtained from a consultation which supports the decision to always have Māori representation. 

Mayor Andy Foster says the appointment of a Māori ward is another step in the right direction.

“The council was the first local authority to establish a Māori committee in 1989, we have a memorandum of understanding with two iwi organisations – Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Incorporated, our Te Tauihu policy is a commitment to making Wellington a bilingual city by 2040, and we have recently introduced mana whenua representation with voting rights and remuneration.

“The introduction of Māori wards will help to build on those foundations as we further forge our relationship with Māori, engage and communicate better, and ensure their voice is always heard.”

The Wellington City Council is the latest of many councils around the country to establish Māori wards. Manawatū District Council voted against it earlier last week, sparking protest from Te Kōtui Reo, with support of MP Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, to hīkoi to the council headquarters to protest the decision.

Wellington councillor Jill Day [Ngāti Tūwharetoa] says the decision for a Māori ward is an important step in honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

“We celebrate diversity and cultural cohesiveness as a capital, but this process of establishing Māori Wards means we’ll actually be living it too," Day says.