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Manawatū District Council Revokes Earlier Decision To Defer Māori Ward(s)

Manawatū District Council has today revoked the previous motion passed at the Council meeting on 6 May to defer a decision on Māori ward(s).

Councillors voted 8 – 3 to revoke the previous motion and support the introduction of Māori wards in time for the 2022 local body elections.

Councillor Alison Short, who brought forward the notice of motion says that she is elated with the decision and believes it is in the best interests of the wider community.

“I acknowledge my colleagues who took a reflective look at the previous decision, listened to what our community has said and reviewed their position today.

“Today we were on the right side of history. Today we were good ancestors. In the years to come our tamariki and rangatahi will look back on the decision we made and see that what we did was simply right. This decision is not about division; it’s about inclusion and partnership. There are no disadvantages, only advantages.

“I want to acknowledge the dignity and respect displayed by all. It was a difficult situation, but I believe we can now park that to one side and move forward with a stronger understanding by all.”

Mayor Helen Worboys voted at the last Council meeting to defer due in part to time constraints and not being able to have a discussion with the wider community, even though she is personally in favour of Māori wards. This time, she voted in favour of establishing a Māori ward.

“Council must engage with iwi and consult, which of course we want to do, but this will be difficult if Iwi are not engaging with Council, for the reasons we understand and respect.

“I acknowledge the concerns from our Council staff about their inability to carry out their work if Iwi will not engage. I also acknowledge that this lack of engagement will impact negatively on our whole community and potentially on projects that our Council supports on a regional basis along with the other seven Councils in our wider region, most who have voted to have Māori wards.

“We understand that there are many in our community that don’t want Māori wards and that this decision will disappoint some of these people. But having spoken to representatives from the new Te Kōtui Reo Tuamata Collective in the past two weeks, it was clear that this is what they wanted for their community to feel valued and heard.

“I am looking forward to having Māori representation at our table from 2022 for the good of our entire District and the ability to keep progressing positively together, which aligns with my personal view. We know that we have a lot of work to do to help restore a positive relationship with Iwi and it is one that we do value. We hope that this is seen as a positive first step.”

The decision to establish a Maori ward automatically triggers a representation review, which will give residents of the Manawatū District the chance to have their say on how Councillors are elected for the next two elections. This will include whether Councillors are elected from geographically based wards, or from the district as a whole, and how many Councillors there are.

Consultation for the representation review starts shortly and will conclude late June 2021.

© Scoop Media

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