Auckland Ma¯ori ward considered
Elected Ma¯ori representation is in Auckland Council’s sights.
Yesterday Auckland councillors met to vote on whether or not to establish a Ma¯ori ward. The result was not available at the time of print. To read the outcome of the vote head to the Central Leader Neighbourly or Facebook page.
As a way to help implement Treaty of Waitangi obligations, the Ma¯ori ward would take the place of one of 20 governing body members, not including the mayor.
Auckland Council could vote for it to be established in time for the 2019 local body elections.
If there is public backlash and a petition is launched, attracting more than 5 per cent of eligible voters, in this case 51,000 Auckland residents, then a $1 million ‘‘for or against’’ poll would need to take place.
Auckland Council also had the option to conduct its own poll in conjunction with the 2019 local body elections, which could reduce the cost to about $150,000.
According to the 2013 consensus 169,800 Auckland residents were Ma¯ori out of a total 1,493,200 residents, making up more than 11 per cent of Auckland’s population.
Auckland Council already has the Independent Maori Statutory Board (IMSB) which was formed in 2010 to promote Ma¯ori issues in Auckland.
In a mayoral debate last year mayor Phil Goff said he supported Ma¯ori wards, because it was better to have elected rather than appointed representation.
Political commentator Morgan Godfery has written literature about Ma¯ori underrepresentation in local government. Originally, the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommended Ma¯ori wards, Godfery said.
However, former Minister of Local Government and ACT leader Rodney Hide ignored the Royal Commission and with then Minister of Ma¯ori Affairs Pita Sharples instead agreed to create the IMSB, Godfery said.
Other councils across the country also had the option of electing Ma¯ori wards, but backlash stopped them from doing so. In Nelson and New Plymouth enough signatures were gathered to trigger binding referendums on Ma¯ori wards in their respective cities, Godfery said.
‘‘Needless to say, Ma¯ori wards were overwhelmingly defeated.’’
Former Minister of Ma¯ori Affairs Pita Sharples.