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Equity questions in rep proposal

Masterton district councillors. PHOTO/FILE

Equity for Maori around the council table was questioned by Masterton councillors this week as they voted to progress a final proposal for a representation review.

Councillors met to approve changes that would result in a reduction of councillors from 10 to eight [in addition to the mayor].

This was to enable the establishment of a Maori Ward in time for next year’s election.

One councillor would be elected from the Maori Ward by voters on the Maori roll, four councillors would be elected from the General Ward by voters on the general roll, and three would be elected at large by all voters.

It means that voters on the Maori roll would be able to vote for four councillors plus the mayor, and those on the general roll would be able to vote for seven plus the mayor.

Councillor Tim Nelson proposed an amendment which he said would improve equity for Maori voters.

He wanted 10 councillors to be elected, plus the mayor.

He proposed one councillor be elected from the Maori Ward, four from the general ward, and five at large.

He said this meant Maori voters could vote for six councillors, and others would vote for nine.

“Six-ninths is a greater fraction than four-sevenths,” he said.

He noted that 2019 Masterton District Council [MDC] candidate Ronald Karaitiana, who is of Maori descent, narrowly missed out on being elected.

Nelson said that reducing the overall number of councillors could impact negatively on diversity at the table.

His amendment was seconded by councillor Chris Peterson and was supported by councillors Sandy Ryan and David Holmes.

Councillors Bex Johnson, Gary Caffell, Frazer Mailman, Graham McClymont, Brent Gare, and Mayor Lyn Patterson voted against the amendment.

The final representation review proposal will be publicly notified by Monday, November 15, with appeals and objections invited up until Wednesday, December 15.

If appeals or objections are received, these will be forwarded to the Local Government Commission for a final decision.

The final proposal becomes the representation arrangements for the 2022 and 2025 local government elections.

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