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Council Votes For Māori Ward

Kaipara District Council has voted to establish a new Māori ward to improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to local Government decision-making.

The Statistics NZ estimates the Māori electoral population in Kaipara to be 3,630 and the general electoral population is 20,760. In passing the vote, Elected Members spoke of the need for greater diversity around the Council table.

Antony Thompson, Snow Tane and Sharon Murray spoke at the meeting, representing the shared interests of Te Uri o Hau and Te Roroa.

Mr Thompson and Ms Murray asked Elected Members to consider the large economic contribution Māori bring to the Kaipara economy.

“Our social service is the largest in the north, our infrastructure is a prime industry and there are forestry, farming, fishing and other areas as well,” says Mr Thompson. “When you look at it from that point of view you do see the need to form a holistic relationship where Māori concerns and voices are heard and shared at the council’s decision-making table.”

The vote was moved by Karen Joyce-Paki, who represents the Dargaville ward, and who is the first Māori member of Council, now in her second term.

“I have mana but I don’t have a mandate, and that is a big issue for me when I am asked to speak on behalf of all the Māori in Kaipara. I was elected by Dargaville residents. I was not elected by Māori to speak on behalf of Māori,” says Ms Joyce-Paki. “We don’t have the luxury and the knowledge of that mandate at our table currently.”

Mayor Dr Jason Smith says this decision is about the democratic wellbeing of all the people in Kaipara District and how everyone can be best served.

“This key decision today is a foundation for the complete representation review that is ahead. I support and agree with the establishment of a Māori ward because I believe it is how we best get Kaipara District to rise strong and uphold the values of Kaipara Te Oranganui and its promise of abundant wellbeing,” says Mayor Smith.

The vote was passed by seven votes, with no votes against it and two Councillors abstaining. The decision was celebrated with a waiata from the public gallery, led by representatives of Kaipara iwi.

Next steps are for the Council to publish a Public Notice of the decision before 30 November. The public may petition the Council to hold a poll of electors. If the Council receives a petition from at least 5% of electors (approximately 790 signatures) by 21 February then the Council will poll all electors.

After a possible poll would be held, or if no poll is called, the Council will review the representation of the entire district. This will account for areas where the population has grown, and for those on the Māori electoral role and may result in a change in wards and their boundaries or the number of elected representatives for Kaipara District Council.

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