Huge Public Support For Binding Referendum On Maori Wards In Northland
Democracy Northland has delivered the largest ever paper petition to three of Northland's council's proposing to introduce Maori wards.
Former regional councillor and one of the petition organisers, John Bain said, "The response has been huge. It is the largest paper petition ever presented to the councils and sends a loud and clear message to all of the local councils in Northland that the people they represent want to have a say on whether Maori wards are introduced".
Across the three councils Democracy Northland collected 15212 signatures, 5315 more than the 9897 that were needed to trigger a binding referendum under the current legislation.
"The signature count in all three councils was above the five percent threshold required. In Kaipara 8.7% of registered voters signed the petition, 8.3% in Whangarei and 7.2% for the Northland Regional Council. These are significant numbers.
"Minister Mahuta has introduced a Bill before Parliament that would remove the compulsion for a local council to hold a binding referendum. But changing the law will not remove the fact that there is significant community opposition to council changing the voting system without consulting the public. The onus is now fairly and squarely on local councils to respect the wishes of the +15,000 petitioners.
"We are calling on the Northland Regional Council, the Whangarei District Council and the Kaipara District Council to hold a referendum on this important issue and to do so at the time of next year's local body election. And we are calling on the Far North District Council to stick with its previous decision to do so.
"We thank the community for their incredible support. Democracy Northland is not going away. The extraordinary act by Minister Mahuta has energised our supporters and made us even more aware that we need to take a stand if we are to protect the democratic rights that generations of New Zealanders have fought for."
John Bain, Robin Grieve, Craig Jepson, Ash Nayyar (Petition organisers)