Coun­cil turns down Maori seats

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PETRICE TAR­RANT

If res­i­dents want to in­tro­duce Maori seats on the South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil they will need to form a pe­ti­tion and seek to hold a poll.

The coun­cil turned down the op­por­tu­nity to pro­pose Maori seats at the coun­cil meet­ing on Oc­to­ber 23.

Mayor Neil Sinclair said it was the safer op­tion.

‘‘We would rather have a poll say­ing ‘‘yes, we’d want one [Maori seat],’’ rather than the neg­a­tive ‘‘no, we don’t want that’’.

If mem­bers of the com­mu­nity feel strongly enough, they can get 5 per cent of elec­tors and seek a poll on the is­sue, Sinclair said.

But they would need to know the con­se­quences, he said.

‘‘If we had two Maori seats, would that have im­pli­ca­tions on how we do our ward struc­ture? I think they [elec­tors] need all the in­for­ma­tion to make a decision.’’

He said an ex­am­ple was when the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil de­cided to in­tro­duce Maori seats.

‘‘We [South Waikato] no longer had a big enough pop­u­la­tion (10 per cent) to jus­tify a re­gional coun­cil­lor.’’

Coun­cil­lor Tua Nu­manga said he did not see a great need for Maori seats.

‘‘While I’d love to see a Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tive on coun­cil all the time, they have the op­por­tu­nity to stand in the gen­eral elec­tion.’’

Last elec­tion there were 2383 vot­ers regis­tered on the Maori roll and about 12,385 on the gen­eral roll.

If only one Maori seat was es­tab­lished, the can­di­date would rep­re­sent a greater av­er­age of vot­ers than many coun­cil­lors at the mo­ment.

Coun­cil­lor Terry Mag­ill said vot­ers needed to re­alise that in­tro­duc­ing Maori seats would have an im­pact on the num­ber rep­re­sent­ing each ward.

‘‘All of those im­pli­ca­tions from a demo­cratic point of view are very big.’’

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