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Unjust requirements on Māori wards

Unjust requirements on Māori wards deliver predictable result

The Māori Party is disappointed but not surprised by the outcome of the referendum on the establishment of Māori wards for the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC).

An overwhelming number of voters said “no” to the establishment of one Māori ward for the northern Taranaki council.

Mrs Fox who participated in a debate on the establishment of a Māori ward for NPDC last year says the decision “shows the tyranny of the majority”.

“Where is the Treaty of Waitangi relationship reflected in local and central government? The provision for a Māori ward isn’t a perfect solution but at least it would guarantee an independent Māori voice at the table.”

Decisions by local councils in other regions to establish Māori wards, such as Nelson and Northland, have all been overturned by a public referendum. No other council decision on wards can be overturned by a binding vote.

“This result is another blow for Māori representation and confirms the unjust nature of the legislation that is supposed to provide for Māori wards,” says Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

The Māori Party co-leaders pay tribute to Mayor Andrew Judd and those who have advocated strongly for better Māori representation in northern Taranaki

“We know the abuse that Mayor Judd and other supporters of a Māori ward have had to endure. A result like this referendum does nothing but deepen historic wounds in the community,” says Mr Flavell.

Mrs Fox says “there is an irrational fear of Māori and what they might do if they have a greater say in local government. We should be working to eliminate unreasonable fear and prejudice”.

The Māori Party wants to see a change to the legislation establishing Māori wards and a move to governance models that truly reflect a Treaty of Waitangi relationship.

“The current system is clearly broken,” says Mr Flavell.

“No other decision made by council can be overturned by a public referendum. When there are disputes over other wards the Local Government Commission intervenes. Māori are clearly disadvantaged.”

ENDS

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