Bay councillors vote against M¯aori wards
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.