Hastings District Council will now start the process of undertaking a representation review, having today resolved to establish Māori Wards.
The decision follows an emergency meeting held on April 22 when Council decided to gather feedback and gauge public opinion on introducing Māori Wards.
This proposal was prompted by amendments to the Local Electoral amendment Act in March this year changing the process for establishing Māori Wards, specifically removing the ability of electors to demand a binding poll on the matter.
Between April 23 and May 12 the proposal was publicised across print media and radio, on various social media channels, on the council website, through flyers sent to rural areas that may not be online or receive print newspapers, and hard copies and submission boxes made available at the council customer service centre, libraries, and the Flaxmere and Camberley Community Centres.
In addition, kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) visits, conversations, telephone calls, emails, social media posts and or hui with a number of whānau, marae, entities across Heretaunga district.
In total, 2,089 responses were received with 76 per cent in support of establishing Māori Wards and 24 per cent against.
The main themes in submissions against the proposal were that the current system was working, with Māori councillors elected on their merits by everybody, and that establishing wards on the basis of race was separatist and created “us and them” division.
Those in support said Māori Wards would honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, acknowledge mana whenua, ensure a Māori perspective in the Council chamber, remove barriers for representation and improve working partnerships.
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said in making the decision today as a council it was the first opportunity to demonstrate true partnership as was the intention of the Treaty of Waitangi.
“This is setting the scene and putting the mechanisms in place for our future generations to work in harmony together and have equal voices at the table.
“I’m really proud that we have grasped this opportunity.”
Ngāti Kahungunu chair Ngahiwi Tomoana said he was very proud to be living in Heretaunga on this day.
“I don’t say that very often … this is great for iwi, hapu and all those who have passed on.”
With today’s decision the next step was a representation review, which included determining the total number of councillors, whether all councillors are elected from wards or a mix of wards and at-large, and the names and boundaries of any wards.
This is a publically notified process with an initial proposal to go out for consultation by August 31 this year.
The deadline for the Local Government Commission to make a determination if any appeals or objections are received was April 11 next year.
18 May 2021
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