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Ruapehu Seeks To Introduce Maori Wards

Ruapehu District Council has voted to improve Maori representation on Council by seeking to introduce Maori Wards in time for the 2022 Local Body elections.

The establishment of Maori Wards has the backing of the Ruapehu District Maori Council which has been reviewing the best way to improve Maori participation in Council decision making.

Mayor Don Cameron said that he was very proud of Council for showing leadership in this area and voting to support the introduction of Maori Wards which could be in place for the next two triennial elections in 2022 and 2025.

"This is a brave landmark decision whose time has come," said Mayor Cameron.

“It means that we can now start the conversation with our community on our obligations to provide greater recognition and representation to Tangata Whenua on Council and the benefits of doing so.

Although there was not unanimous support with a ten to two vote in favour Council was able to discuss the issue in a mature and respectful way which I hope will be reflected in how the wider community responds,” he said.

“The concern of the dissenting councillors was that the decision could be considered as race based and that there are other opportunities for Maori to be involved in Council without establishing Maori Wards.

The majority of Council felt however that on balance it would enhance engagement with Maori upholding the principles of partnership and participation and allow a way for Maori perspectives to help influence Council thinking."

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Mayor Cameron noted that Council's resolution in favour of establishing Maori Wards does not mean that they are automatically created and there are a number of steps to go.

Firstly a public notice on Council's resolution will be made in our local papers that advises the right to a poll to countermand the decision if five percent of enrolled electors (>385 people) demand it.

If Council's resolution is not revoked by a poll the representation details of Ward boundaries and number of Maori members, etc. will be worked through as part of the Basis of Election Review process.

The wider Ruapehu community has the opportunity to have their say as part of this process.

If established at election time candidates standing for Council will choose whether they want to stand for a Maori Ward or a General Ward.

Voters on the Maori roll can vote for Maori Ward candidates while voters on the General Roll are eligible to vote for General Ward candidates.

People should note that in either case once elected the members take an oath to represent and make decisions on behalf of the whole district and all residents and ratepayers.”

Mayor Cameron said that he would strongly encourage people to support Council's resolution and not see it as something to be fearful of.

“Under the Local Government Act Council must review its electoral arrangements every six years so there is an opportunity to review how things are working at that time.

If people want further information they can call Council on 07 895 8188 or 06 385 8364.”

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