Council staff provided the Strategy and Policy Committee with feedback from a consultation process, supporting the decision to ensure Māori are always represented at the Council table.
Wellington City Council has a long and proud history of Māori representation in matters of local governance, says Mayor Andy Foster.
“The Council was the first local authority to establish a Māori Committee in 1989, we have a memoranda of understanding with two iwi organisations – Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Incorporated, our Te Tauihu policy is a commitment to making Wellington a bilingual city by 2040, and we have recently introduced mana whenua representation with voting rights and remuneration.
“The introduction of Māori Wards is another step in the right direction and will help to build on those foundations as we further forge our relationship with Māori, engage and communicate better, and ensure their voice is always heard.”
Other Councils around the country are also taking active steps to empower and partner with Māori in decision making processes and input within areas of local government.
Councillor Jill Day (Ngāti Tūwharetoa), who has driven the process to make a Māori Ward a reality in Wellington, is proud the moment is here.
“This decision is an important step in honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and making the future of Pōneke more democratic and inclusive for all voices of the city.
“We celebrate diversity and cultural cohesiveness as a capital, but this process of establishing a Māori Ward means we’ll actually be living it too.
“I would also like to personally acknowledge Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government, for repealing the law that hindered the process of establishing Māori Wards with a binding referendum veto that could overturn resolutions – and my tamariki thank her too.”
The Council voted 13-2 to support the creation of a Māori Ward which would come into effect for the 2022 local elections.
Wards are a way of dividing the city for elections to enable communities of interest to elect representatives.
Wellington City is currently divided into 5 wards, Takapū/Northern Ward, Wharangi/Onslow-Western Ward, Pukehīnau/Lambton Ward, Motukairangi/Eastern Ward, and Paekawakawa/Southern Ward.
The establishment of a Māori ward is one way Council may choose to have representation of a community of interest. Instead of grouping electors by geographic location like other wards, all electors who are on the Māori electoral roll will vote in the Māori ward.
If you are on the Māori roll you would also be able to vote for:
- The Mayor
- Any community boards (if you live in the appropriate area)
- Any Councillors elected at-large (Wellington currently has no Councillors elected at large)
- The Greater Wellington Regional Council
The only difference between voting for those on the Māori roll and the general roll is that those on the Māori roll vote for candidates standing for the Māori ward instead of the general ward. All other votes are the same.