Maori seats es­tab­lished

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil voted to es­tab­lish two Maori seats in time for the 2013 lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.

Chair­man Peter Buck­ley said the ground­work for strength­en­ing Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tion started in 2006 when the coun­cil re­duced the num­ber of coun­cil­lors from 14 to 12 and ad­justed con­stituency bound­aries to al­low for two mem­bers to be elected from Maori con­stituen­cies in the fu­ture.

‘‘This coun­cil has long recog­nised the spe­cial sta­tus of the Treaty of Wai­tangi in New Zealand so­ci­ety and the po­ten­tial for im­prov­ing Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tion in re­gional gov­er­nance,’’ Mr Buck­ley said.

‘‘At the last rep­re­sen­ta­tion re­view five years ago, the coun­cil cre­ated the op­por­tu­nity for Maori seats. It is now time to make it hap­pen.’’

The Maori con­stituen­cies would com­ple­ment and re­in­force cur­rent co­gov­er­nance agree­ments, mem­o­randa of un­der­stand­ing be­tween iwi and the coun­cil, and other en­gage­ment and con­sul­ta­tion ar­range­ments, he said.

Coun­cil­lors hoped that in­tro­duc­ing Maori seats would en­cour­age more Maori to vote and par­tic­i­pate in lo­cal democ­racy.

For­mal and in­for­mal feed­back from Raukawa Set­tle­ment Trust, Waikato Tainui, Ma­niapoto Maori Trust Board and Te Arawa River Iwi Trust con­firmed these views.

The coun­cil will now pub­licly no­tify the de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce Maori seats, ad­vis­ing that a poll can be held on this is­sue if 5 per cent of elec­tors call for it.

All lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have to re­view their rep­re­sen­ta­tion ar­range­ments ev­ery six years.

South Waikato District Coun­cil de­cided against in­tro­duc­ing a Maori seat on the coun­cil when it came up for re­view in Au­gust.

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