Govt to abolish local veto on council Maori wards

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.


The government will introduce legislation to uphold council decisions to establish Māori wards Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced.

The first stage of the legislative reform will include immediate changes to establish transitional measures making the establishment of Māori wards easier ahead of the 2022 local elections.

This could mean the petition against the establishment of a Maori Ward in Tauranga calling for a referendum on the issue will no longer be upheld.

On Friday hundreds of people attended a public meeting discussing the issue with people both for and against the establishment of a ward.

The meeting was organised by a group called Concerned Citizens, which recently submitted the petition. 

Protesters standing with signs and Maori flags filled the back of the TYPBC club room, behind rows of seats filled to the brim with other meeting attendees.

Speakers included former New Conservative party member Elliot Ikilei, and Hobson’s pledge members Don Brash and Casey Costello.

They argued their views are in favour of equality and Maori bettering themselves.

Arguments for Maori Wards, and against the petition followed from iwi leader Buddy Mikaere and one other speaker.

Buddy says the fact that no other ward has gone through the same process or scrutiny proves that racism is fuelling the petition.

Tauranga City Council voted to establish a Maori ward in the 2022 local government elections in August last year.

People at the meeting on Friday. Image: Mackenzie Dyer/SunLive.

Mahuta made the announcement about the legislation in New Plymouth today. She says the current system had a different set of rules for establishing Māori and general wards and that councils had asked for a law change.

The current law allows the decision of an elected council to introduce a Māori ward to be overturned by a local poll. Just 5 per cent of support is needed for a poll to be demanded.

Mahuta says the rules needed to change.

"The process of establishing a ward should be the same for both Māori and general wards. These are decisions for democratically-elected councils, who are accountable to the public every three years.

"Polls have proven to be an almost insurmountable barrier to councils trying to improve the democratic representation of Māori interests. This process is fundamentally unfair to Māori."

Legislative reform to Māori wards processes would be progressed in two stages over the next three years.

The second stage would develop a permanent mechanism for local authorities to consider the establishment of Māori wards and constituencies.

Mahuta says increasing Māori representation will be a good thing.

"Increasing Māori representation is essential to ensuring equity in representation and to provide a Māori voice in local decision making. It will also lead to greater Māori participation in the resource management process.

"We know the importance of diversity around the council table and, as part of the government's commitment to working to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, we need to do our part to enable councils to achieve fair representation. Like in Parliamentary elections, specific Māori seats can assist with this.

"Māori and non-Māori across New Zealand have been calling for these changes for some time, including the recent presentation of two petitions with more than 11,000 signatures to Parliament."

On 4 December a petition was delivered to MPs urging them to get rid of legislation that enabled referenda on Māori wards.

ActionStation collected more than 10,000 signatures calling for Parliament to make the process of establishing Māori wards for district and regional councils the same as the process for establishing general wards.

The new legislation will also extend the deadline for councils to consider Māori wards to 21 May 2021, providing them with a fresh opportunity to make decisions on Māori representation at the 2022 local elections.


  • Since 2002, 24 councils have attempted to establish Māori wards using the process under the Local Electoral Act 2001 and only two have been successful so far

  • Nine councils have decided to establish Māori wards for the 2022 local elections, joining three councils who established these at earlier elections. The government will support these councils' decisions to improve Māori representation

Additional reporting RNZ.

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Posted on 02-02-2021 08:31 | By

Great to hear that this has finally happened. Now councils may finally have fairer representation. I’m delighted to write this on behalf of all the people who disagree with the letter-writers here. About time!

C'mon guys,

Posted on 02-02-2021 08:30 | By R. Bell

the sky hasn’t fallen, the world is still turning and democracy still rules. No one will ever convince you that you are wrong, but the good news is that even you will eventually realize your over reaction to a simple adjustment to rectify an injustice means diddly squat to our nation but a massive leap forward for race relations. With some exceptions of course. Good wishes to you all.

Got it

Posted on 02-02-2021 07:36 | By Kancho

Finally worked out to not bother voting for anything as we will be told what we want. More costs of bureaucracy ahead. I see this comes with a financial credit downgrade for council too so rubbish collection and a rate increase will follow. We are amongst the highest rated already but we are also highly indebted. We will soon have hose ban because growth has outstripped infrastructure as planning for a major city has failed with no water storage. Never mind we will get more bike an bus lanes to slow down everything . So why bother voting for council or governments either. Anger replaces any civic responsibility

@ maunganui

Posted on 01-02-2021 23:38 | By The Caveman

Could not have put it better myself. !!!

And There We Have It

Posted on 01-02-2021 22:24 | By

I trust the persons selected will be for the right reasons of what they can offer Tauranga as a city and not as single-eyed radicals. T.E.A.M - Together Everyone Achieves More.


Posted on 01-02-2021 21:41 | By dumbkof2

this is just the start of what this govt will do. very soon you will have no say in anything. there goes democracy gone out the back door hello dictatorship


Posted on 01-02-2021 21:38 | By The Caveman

But down the drain go Labour at the next elections !!


Posted on 01-02-2021 21:21 | By groutby

.....there it goes....any chance of democracy swept aside in favour of a race based decision by the Minister...’if ya don’t like it...change the rules to suit my outcome’ the larger scheme of things it may well not be a ’biggie’....but if more and more decisions come down to race based ’needs’, then we as a country are in a whole lotta trouble.....

Best Candidate Gets Elected.

Posted on 01-02-2021 21:17 | By StevieB

Or as a representation of all minority groups within NZ, should be also have a LBGT ward, Indian ward, Muslem Ward, Pakeha Ward, South African Ward, Catholic Ward ........ Or should the best candidate for the job simply bet elected ’cos that is how democracy works. This govt scheme is blatantly racist. It’s time we all stood together as New Zealanders.

Race, creed or colour ...

Posted on 01-02-2021 21:08 | By

It’s irrelevant. How do you get rid of useless seat-warmers if they’re appointed rather than elected. I don’t agree with race-based appointments when there is absolutely nothing preventing tactical voting to achieve the same results. If you have no faith in your candidate you don’t vote for them and that should work for everyone. Not just a chosen few.

The Solution

Posted on 01-02-2021 20:40 | By R1Squid

Is easy. Nobody vote in the next local body election.


Posted on 01-02-2021 20:32 | By maunganui

If any group in society feels they need to be represented on a local body council, board of directors, committee then get elected on your own merits democratically, If Maori want representation on local council they should start by contributing by way of land rates to help with council infrastructure ie water, sewage, refuge collection to name a few.

Remember this day.

Posted on 01-02-2021 19:43 | By

The day democracy died in NZ