Council turns down Maori seats
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.’’