A few days ago, Western Bay District Mayor Garry Webber shared his views about why Western Bay should have a Maori ward.

He noted that various laws require local authorities to provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to the decision-making process. Quite so.

And in the Western Bay we have not one but two Maori committees specifically set up to ensure that our Council hears the views of Maori. These committees include representatives from the 11 iwi in the Western Bay District. So we are certainly discharging our responsibility to hear the views of Maori.

He seems to imagine that having a Maori ward would be an improvement on the current situation, where having just a single Maori elected in a Maori ward would more effectively enable Councilors to take the views of Maori ratepayers into account.

That of course assumes that there is a single “Maori voice” on local government issues: that one person can effectively represent the views of all those who chance to have a Maori ancestor (always with ancestors of other ethnicities as well of course).

The Mayor correctly notes that the law enables ratepayers to demand a poll when a Maori ward is proposed, but not when geographical wards are created or modified. He implies that this is a bias in the system, and implicitly agrees with Local Government New Zealand in calling for the removal of the right for ratepayers to demand a poll when a Maori ward is proposed.

But he conveniently ignores the fact that creating political systems which are quite explicitly based on race is fundamentally different from redrawing geographical boundaries.

All New Zealanders should strongly reject attempts to create racially-based political systems.   Vote NO to the creation of a Maori ward!

Margaret Murray-Benge

Councilor, Kaimai Ward

Margaret Murray-Benge
Councillor, Kaimai Ward