With council elections fast approaching, Local Democracy Reporter EMILY IRELAND asks mayoral candidates whether Maori wards are an effective way to increase Maori participation, both as candidates and as voters, in local government elections.
Better solutions to everyday issues come from people having different ideas that can then be debated around the council table. We need a better reflection of our population dynamics, represented in our elected councillors.
The evidence from the upcoming elections would suggest that the introduction of Maori wards still have a question mark over them as to creating more Maori participation in local government elections, so a not sure from me.
We won’t know until after this election for increasing Maori voter participation and after the three-year term has ended.
I haven’t seen any evidence of Maori wards effectively increasing the participation rate.
Yes, but we only had one candidate stand [very high calibre] but we really won’t know until after the voting is finished if interest from Maori voters is up.
Masterton mayoral candidate Hakepa did not respond.
Maori wards are a step on the journey and certainly not the destination. Every rohe is different and if a territorial authority has true engagement with tangata whenua, the path [with its steps] will become clearer.
This is a question for the public. Councils are in a tight spot when Maori resident numbers don’t align with proportional representation. Central Government needs to change laws, and be clear about why. Council will consult in the upcoming Governance Review, however, and be advised by our Maori Standing Committee.
In 2021, all four Wairarapa iwi entities blasted South Wairarapa District Council for failing to even consider introducing Maori wards, despite Maori making up 15 per cent of the population. In 2022, we see that Maori wards have encouraged much greater participation in council elections, with candidate numbers surpassing those seen previously.
Fundamental to our democracy is the Treaty and embracing the partnership with tangata whenua. Having tangata whenua at the council table will benefit all community outcomes. We are having a representation review in the next triennium and will listen to Maori views and our community.
For South Wairarapa, I believe there should be more of a hapu representation. We have a Maori Standing Committee and the mahi they do is invaluable; I would love to see that they are more included at our table. – NZLDR
- Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air