Council pushes ahead with Maori ward
Auckland Council will seek a legislative change to allow it to make an elected Ma¯ori councillor role compulsory.
Auckland councillors on Thursday voted 10 to five in favour of a Ma¯ori ward, in principle.
But the complex logistics of introducing one means legislation would need to change in order for it to be in place in time for the next local body elections in 2019.
Councillors were also worried that if they decided in favour, a public backlash could cause a petition to be launched, which if it attracted about 51,000 Auckland residents, then a $1 million ‘‘for or against’’ poll would have had to take place funded by Auckland Council.
Auckland Council would look into changing legislation to increase councillor numbers before establishing ama¯ori ward.
If a Ma¯ori ward had been approved it would have taken the place of one of 20 governing body members, not including the mayor.
Currently the council’s governing body cannot change its representation numbers and is the only council in New Zealand with that restriction in its legislation.
If the council were to use one of the existing ward councillor positions for a Ma¯ori ward, it would require realignment of ward boundaries which also has an impact on local boards. This would be a significant exercise and it makes more sense to seek a legislative change to add a Ma¯ori ward, rather than change all of the existing arrangements.
Mayor Phil Goff said he agreed with having an elected Ma¯ori representative in principle, but feared the division a referendum could cause Auckland.
‘‘We need to avoid that grievance festering and getting worse,’’ Goff said.
Auckland Council also had the option to conduct its own poll in conjunction with the 2019 local body elections, which could reduce the cost to about $150,000.
According to the 2013 consensus 169,800 Auckland residents were Ma¯ori out of a total 1,493,200 residents, making up more than 11 per cent of Auckland’s population.
Auckland Council already has the Independent Maori Statutory Board (IMSB) which was formed in 2010 to promote Maori issues and promote tangata whenua in Auckland.
‘‘We need to avoid that grievance festering and getting worse’’ Mayor Phil Goff