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Māori standing committee to make recommendation to Council on Māori wards

Council

This week, Hastings District Council’s Heretaunga Takoto Noa Māori standing committee will make a recommendation to Council on whether or not it should introduce Māori wards.

The Local Electoral (Māori wards and Māori constituencies) Amendment Act 2021, introduced in March this year, made changes to the Local Electoral Act 2001 aimed at ensuring equity in representation and providing a Māori voice in local decision making.

Under the Act, Council has until 21 May 2021 to decide whether or not to establish Māori wards for the 2022 local elections.

Hastings District Council’s electoral officer Jackie Evans says the Heretaunga Takoto Noa Māori standing committee would make a recommendation on this matter to Council at 1.30pm this Wednesday 21 April, with the meeting livestreamed via the council website and Facebook page.

“If the Māori standing committee recommends introducing Māori wards, the next steps will be for Council to seek initial feedback from the Hastings district community on the committee’s recommendation, and then to make a decision before 21 May.”

Mrs Evans said that, should the decision be to introduce Māori wards, Council would then have to undertake a representation review to decide the overall number of Councillors, number of wards and ward boundaries including Māori wards. “This representation review is subject to formal community consultation process with the initial proposals publicly notified by 8 September 2021, followed by formal consultation and the hearing of submissions in late October.”

Wards are a way of dividing the district for elections to enable communities of interest to elect representatives. Hastings district is currently divided into five wards including: Flaxmere, Hastings/Havelock North, Heretaunga, Mohaka and Kahurānaki.

Introducing Māori wards would mean electors on the Māori roll would vote for candidates standing in the Māori wards instead of those standing in the general ward, however all electors may vote for the Mayor. The number of candidates standing in the Māori wards would be proportionate to the Māori electorate population. On the current arrangement of 14 Councillors in the Hastings district, three would be elected from Māori wards.

19 April 2021

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