It’s been recommended the Invercargill City Council does not include a Māori ward for the next election but instead introduces seats for mana whenua that are not elected by the public.
It has been recommended that the Invercargill City Council does not join other councils in creating a Mori ward for the next election.
The council is carrying out its six-yearly representation review which looks into the make-up of the council for the next two elections.
That review has coincided with the enactment of the Local Electoral (Mori Wards and Mori Constituencies) Amendment Act 2021.
Councils have been given the chance to consider or reconsider whether to create a Mori ward for their district in time for the 2022 local government elections.
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Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta makes an announcement at the New Plymouth District Council regarding Mori wards. (First published Feb 1, 2021)
A change in law was passed which means local polls with five or more percent can no longer overturn a council’s decision to introduce Mori wards.
This week the Far North District Council was the latest of 10 councils to agree to introduce a Maori ward in time for the 2022 election joining three other councils which already had a Maori ward in place.
The Invercargill City Council will vote on Tuesday if they will or will not bring in a Maori ward.
In a report prepared by deputy electoral officer Michael Morris for Tuesdays performance, policy, and partnerships committee meeting it recommends to not introduce a Maori ward but consider mana whenua seats at the council table.
It follows public feedback through the representation review.
Under the recommended option council staff would be directed to work with mana whenua to create mana whenua seats instead.
These seats would be exclusively for mana whenua and would not be elected by the voting public. The seats would be on the councils standing committees that come with voting rights and an advisory seat on full council (non-voting), Morris says in the report.
If the recommendation was adopted a further report would be prepared to set out the approach to establish the mana whenua seats.
Public feedback from the representation review lead by a community panel indicated a broad level of support for a much greater level of Maori involvement in council decision-making.
Many people felt that it was right that Mori have a voice at the council table.
Included in the consultation was a long-term plan engagement event at Murihiku Marae.
The strong message from that engagement was that a Mori ward was not favoured. One of the reasons being the person elected could be any person who may not have links to Invercargill, let alone be Mori and enrolled on the Mori roll, Morris says in his report.
Amongst other feedback during the review was a feeling from some that a Maori ward would create a segregation, and that it was undemocratic to set aside one seat for a certain category of people.
However, these voices have been very much in the minority, Morris says.
Other public feedback against a Mori ward focused around whether the ward would serve all Mori or whether it was just for Ngai Tahu and that it was only tokenism to allow council to tick a box. There was also concern about a councillor being on council to only represent one group rather than having all 12 councillors to represent the city as a whole.