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Vote supports Māori ward in South Wairarapa

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] has voted to establish a Māori ward in the district.

The motion passed with seven votes for and three against at a council meeting in Martinborough yesterday.

The public gallery was full ahead of the decision, and the positive vote was celebrated with applause, while some attendees hugged one another.

SWDC debated the issue for almost an hour before the vote was taken.

The chair of the council’s Māori Standing Committee, Andrea Rutene, spoke in favour of the motion. The Māori Standing Committee had unanimously endorsed the move at an extraordinary meeting earlier this month.

“First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge those who have gone before us and on whose shoulders we now stand. Personally, I can’t believe that in 2023 we are still needing to do this,” she said.

Rutene said while many important functions had been delegated from central to local government, concerns about Māori representation remained.

“We are a minority group in our own whenua, on our own land,” she said.

Rutene said the concerns include low levels of Māori representation around the decision-making table, and an inability to approach environmental matters from a Māori perspective.

“Today, council has the opportunity and power to make another step in the right direction,” she said.

Those who voted for establishing the Māori ward were Mayor Martin Connelly, Deputy Mayor Melissa Sadler-Futter, and councillors Rebecca Gray, Colin Olds, Pip Maynard, Kaye McAulay, and Aidan Ellims.

Those who voted against the motion were councillors Aaron Woodcock, Martin Bosley, and Alistair Plimmer, all of whom represent the Greytown ward. Their objections related to the process followed.

Councillor Plimmer addressed the council about his concerns that the wider community had not been properly engaged.

“Whilst I fully support the Treaty of Waitangi as a founding document, the issue I am to address is the procedure and process we are being guided on by our officers on the establishment of a Māori Ward for the next election,” he said.

Plimmer said the proper consultation process had not been followed.

“I have read all the submissions by the Māori Standing Committee and the various marae and clearly understand their positions and their aspirations,” he said.

“I have, however, not yet heard from our wider community as the law and our policy directs and, therefore, I am not yet able to cast an informed vote for or against a Māori Ward.”

Former SWDC mayor Alex Beijen and former SWDC councillor Rebecca Fox agreed with Plimmer in statements made in public participation ahead of the vote.

– NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air decision-making table, and an inability to approach environmental matters from a Māori perspective.

“Today, council has the opportunity and power to make another step in the right direction,” she said.

Those who voted for establishing the Māori ward were Mayor Martin Connelly, Deputy Mayor Melissa Sadler-Futter, and councillors Rebecca Gray, Colin Olds, Pip Maynard, Kaye McAulay, and Aidan Ellims.

Those who voted against the motion were councillors Aaron Woodcock, Martin Bosley, and Alistair Plimmer, all of whom represent the Greytown ward. Their objections related to the process followed.

Councillor Plimmer addressed the council about his concerns that the wider community had not been properly engaged.

“Whilst I fully support the Treaty of Waitangi as a founding document, the issue I am to address is the procedure and process we are being guided on by our officers on the establishment of a Māori Ward for the next election,” he said.

Plimmer said the proper consultation process had not been followed.

“I have read all the submissions by the Māori Standing Committee and the various marae and clearly understand their positions and their aspirations,” he said.

“I have, however, not yet heard from our wider community as the law and our policy directs and, therefore, I am not yet able to cast an informed vote for or against a Māori Ward.”

Former SWDC mayor Alex Beijen and former SWDC councillor Rebecca Fox agreed with Plimmer in statements made in public participation ahead of the vote. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

1 COMMENT

  1. The start of segregation very sad 😔. We have a no racial election 😢 no we have two racism rolls that you can vote on. So much for a united country 🙄 sad sad what happened to democracy 😢.

Comments are closed.

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