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Te Pāti Māori Celebrate Māori Wards Bill, Vow To Continue Fight For Māori Rights In Local Government

Te Pāti Māori is celebrating the third reading of the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill and vowing to continue the fight for guaranteed tangata whenua representation in local government.

“The passage of this Bill through Parliament is a huge win for the tireless campaigners and local elected members from across the motu who have ensured this issue was on the agenda of the Government,” said Te Pāti Māori Co-leader Ngarewa-Packer.

“We acknowledge the leaders of this kaupapa, rangatira like Toni Boynton, Andrew Judd, Rongomou Community Action, and the Māori local elected members’ network, Te Maruata. It is through their years and years of relentless advocacy and campaigning that we’ve reached this milestone today.

“Let’s be clear, the provision that this Bill is removing is racist, it’s discriminatory, and as it represents a breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, it’s unconstitutional. This racist double-standard never should have been on our lawbooks, and it is damming that successive governments have failed to right this wrong.

“We also congratulate Minister Nanaia Mahuta for bringing this Bill forward to the House, and for seeing this long-overdue change through.

“This fight is part of a wider struggle for our rights and interests, and for the realisation of our tino rangatiratanga. This is one step in process of returning and sharing power with tangata whenua at the local government level. The next step is that the Government should guarantee Māori representation in local government, by requiring all local and regional councils to establish at least one Māori ward in their area. Te Pāti Māori has been calling for this for years – in 2010 Te Ururoa Flavell had a Member’s Bill voted down that would have done just that.

“Te Pāti Māori will keep fighting for a future where our people’s voices are consistently heard at decision-making tables by right, not by chance,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.

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