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SW Māori ward endorsed

The creation of a Māori ward in South Wairarapa has been unanimously endorsed by the council’s Māori Standing Committee [MSC].

An extraordinary meeting of the MSC on Tuesday evening passed the unanimous vote.

The matter will now be formally considered by South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] at its next meeting on November 22.

“The committee has strong unanimous support based on feedback and consultation with marae, whanau, hapū, and iwi, for one Maori ward at SWDC to come into effect for the 2025 and 2028 elections,” the meeting’s resolution said.

MSC chair Andrea Rutene spoke in favour of the resolution.

“For us, there is a significant interest with having whakapapa to the whenua that make us mana whenua of this place,” she said.

“That brings with it your heart, [and] your dedication for the benefit of all who reside here. That is one of our key tikanga principles of manaakitanga.”

Rutene said this had also been evident during the covid-19 pandemic.

“I just see that this is another step in the right direction of building that community which we want to live in, be a part of.”

SWDC decided in 2021 not to implement a Māori ward. At the time, the council wanted to fully consult to understand the views of Māori and the implications of establishing a ward.

A report received by the MSC noted detailed discussions on the matter had taken place earlier this year, and recommended the committee adopt a position.

In June, the MSC had begun the discussions, followed by a workshop in July. During the months that followed, formal and informal conversations across the community had taken place.

During the meeting on Tuesday evening, SWDC councillor Pip Maynard encouraged all members of the MSC to attend the council meeting later this month.

After the meeting, she said the upcoming decision is a significant one.

“It’s a very big decision and not something to be taken lightly,” Maynard said.

“We needed the mahi to be done. We are blessed to have the MSC. They can engage with mana whenua and tangata whenua. To hear that voice strongly is very special.

“I think it is really important for the members of the MSC to be at the council meeting on the 22nd [November] and speak to the proposal.”

SWDC mayor Martin Connelly attended the Tuesday meeting and afterwards commented on the unanimous vote.

“By taking a unanimous decision in favour of having a Māori ward, the Māori Standing Committee simplifies the full council’s decision-making task,” he said.

“The council is now fully aware that both the committee, and Māori in the district, strongly endorse a Māori ward.”

The decision in 2021 was contentious, and a hikoi was held around Martinborough’s town square.

After the hikoi, mana whenua briefly occupied the entrance of the SWDC offices, before the protest ended with waiata by the council’s chief executive in the office’s foyer. -NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

1 COMMENT

  1. Why do they want to divide the community 🤔 there’s no them and us that’s called racist 🤔.

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