Bay coun­cil­lors vote against M¯aori wards

The Dominion Post - - News - AN­DRE CHUMKO

Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cil has re­jected the idea of Ma¯ ori wards at the next two lo­cal body elec­tions.

At a meet­ing yes­ter­day, the coun­cil voted against estab­lish­ing Ma¯ ori wards at the 2019 and 2022 elec­tions by a vote of 5-4.

Coun­cil­lors Peter Beaven, Deb­bie He­witt, Fen­ton Wil­son, Tom Belford and Alan Dick formed a ma­jor­ity against the idea, de­feat­ing coun­cil­lors Neil Kir­ton, Paul Bai­ley, Rick Barker and chair­man Rex Gra­ham, who were all in sup­port of in­tro­duc­ing Ma¯ ori wards.

Cur­rently, there are no Ma¯ ori on the nine-mem­ber coun­cil, de­spite Ma¯ori mak­ing up 23 per cent of Hawke’s Bay’s pop­u­la­tion.

The de­ci­sion fol­lows the coun­cil’s Ma¯ori com­mit­tee con­sult­ing with four iwi groups be­tween Oc­to­ber 2 and Oc­to­ber 25, all of which were ‘‘very keen and com­mit­ted’’ to estab­lish­ing Ma¯ ori wards, an agenda for the meet­ing said.

The iwi groups had dis­cussed the is­sue with hapu¯ , wha¯ nau and marae mem­bers.

Ma¯ori com­mit­tee deputy chair­man Mike Paku gave a speech to the meet­ing in which he en­cour­aged coun­cil­lors to sup­port the wards be­fore vot­ing.

He said Ma¯ ori had brought value to the re­gion for gen­er­a­tions.

‘‘There are many demon­stra­tions of that, go­ing back over time, of the value that Ma¯ ori have brought to the re­gion. One can say that ac­tu­ally we have brought value right back from the es­tab­lish­ment of colo­nial­ism to this coun­try. We have en­dorsed the re­la­tion­ship and the part­ner­ship of set­tle­ment of this re­gion.’’

A ma­jor­ity five coun­cil­lors voted against estab­lish­ing Ma¯ ori wards.

Al­though the coun­cil voted against the wards, if 5 per cent of Hawke’s Bay elec­tors de­manded a poll on the is­sue by Fe­bru­ary 21, one must be held no later than May 21. The coun­cil can also de­cide to hold a poll ear­lier. How­ever, it was agreed at the meet­ing that Ma¯ ori would be con­sulted be­fore the coun­cil made a de­ci­sion. Any re­sult of a poll would be bind­ing for two elec­toral cy­cles, and would cost about $230,000.

The de­ci­sion fol­lows Napier City Coun­cil re­ject­ing the idea of Ma¯ ori wards by a vote of 12-1 on November 8. Only two coun­cils have Ma¯ori wards: Bay of Plenty Re­gional Coun­cil and Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil. Wairoa District Coun­cil is set to es­tab­lish them from 2019. On Oc­to­ber 24, Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil voted in favour of hav­ing one or two Ma¯ ori wards at the next lo­cal body elec­tions.

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