Māori Ward(s) Statement On Behalf Of Mayor Helen Worboys And Deputy Mayor Michael Ford
As Mayor and Deputy Mayor we wish to do what is best for the Manawatū District community.
We understand that there is hurt and disappointment for Iwi, hapū and marae as well as for the wider Māori community regarding our Council’s decision to defer Māori ward(s) until 2023.
The Māori ward issue is contentious. If central Government wanted Aotearoa New Zealand to have Māori wards, they should have legislated for it. They instead delegated that decision to local communities at Council level, dividing communities up and down our country. Some Councils are establishing Māori ward, others are deferring the decision and other Councils are not addressing the issue.
Our Manawatū community decided by conclusive majority in a 2018 referendum that they did not want a Māori ward for the next 6 years. Recent rushed legislation gave Councils the option to reconsider establishing Māori ward for the 2022 election but with no sensible timeframe to have a meaningful discussion with Iwi and our community at large on why our community referendum decision in 2018 should be changed.
Our Council last week voted 6 to 4 to defer the decision until 2023 in order for our community to have this conversation. This decision was not well received by many Iwi and advocates of establishing a Māori ward. It has also not been well received by many voters in our community opposed to the establishment of Māori wards, for opposite reasons.
Elected members who voted to defer, have been requested to reconsider and support a new resolution to support a Māori ward.
The Deputy Mayor and I personally support Māori wards but also respect the democratic decision of our community as we are elected to represent the whole community.
We have listened and wish to find common ground with Iwi to move forward from, which will give more certainty to Iwi and more time to hopefully bring our community with us.
We are prepared to:
- Bring forward the date for the decision on the establishment of the Maori Ward to 2022, prior to the next election.
- The Deputy Mayor and I are prepared to say today that we will vote in favour of establishing a Maori Ward in 2022.
- If the decision then is in favour of establishing a Maori Ward, it would be effective from the 2025 election.
We are committed to working with Iwi to find a resolution that will benefit our entire community.
Mayor Helen Worboys
Deputy Mayor Michael Ford