The New Zealand Herald
City council to revisit Ma¯ori wards decision
The Hamilton City Council is to revisit its decision not to establish Ma¯ori wards for next year’s local body election.
Last week it voted against the proposal 8-4, instead deciding to strengthen Ma¯ori participation on council committees.
A majority of councillors have now formally sought to revoke the decision and it will go back to the council next week to consider a new motion of introducing Ma¯ori wards but only after community consultation.
A final decision will be made on May 19.
Mayor Paula Southgate said she was acutely aware of how deeply hurt some people had been by last week’s decision.
“I understand people’s frustration and hurt and I have felt that myself very keenly, but my concern has always been to take people with you.”
She supported the move to revisit the decision, on the proviso there would be wider engagement with the community before a final decision was made.
“That was important to me and important to others.” She said a poll was not an option, however.
“No, those days are well gone. What I want and what I think councillors also want is an opportunity to socialise the issue with people more widely so they understand what we seeking achieve.
“In saying that, the final decision will be council’s.”
The decision last week led to the resignation of Hemi Rau, one of five Maangai Ma¯ori representatives on council committees.
“I understand Hemi’s frustration and while I respect his decision, I am saddened by it. We are looking to strengthen the Ma¯ori voice around our table and he would have had a role in that going forward,” Southgate said.