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Wellington Mayor responds to Maori wards ultimatum

Today the Local Government Minister announced the introduction of a bill which would require councils to either vote to disestablish their Māori wards from 2025 or to hold a binding poll on disestablishing that Māori ward, taking effect from 2028.

“I have no plans to remove the Māori ward and this council is committed to our partnership with our Takai Here partners and representation of Māori across the city,” says Mayor Tory Whanau.

“This is a concerning example of central government overruling a democratically made local government decision. This is over and above a reversion to the law of 2021, which only required a poll if demanded by a certain number of citizens.

“I question whether this complies with the crown’s obligations to Māori under Te Tiriti. This government is out of step and out of date with these changes to legislation and our democracy. I will work through this with our mana whenua and iwi partners before responding further.

“I strongly believe that creating avenues for Māori representation in decision making is how we move forward towards an inclusive society.

“Abolishing the need for a referendum on Māori wards has helped to increase representation in local councils to its highest rate ever. This is only a good thing and should be celebrated, not reversed.

“It is so important that we continue to not only recognise but uphold tangata whenua perspectives in decision making and in the council chamber. Ultimately, it is better for all of us,” says Mayor Whanau.

Māori Ward Councillor Nīkau Wi Neera added:

“This is in no way about fairness. No other representation decision is subject to a referendum.

“I am extremely concerned about what appears to be an attack on efforts to honour Te Tiriti in local decision making, and the potential divisive impacts to Aotearoa of a referendum. However, I believe that this city will make the right decision.”


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