Council votes for Whakatane Maori wards
Whakatane District Council has voted unanimously to establish Maori wards for the next two local body electoral cycles.
The decision was made earlier today at an extraordinary Council meeting for consideration of their establishment.
At the commencement of the meeting, 21 groups and individuals took the opportunity to speak in the Public Forum to share their views on Maori ward establishment with elected members.
The next step is to consider Maori wards as part of Council’s Representation Review.
To achieve fair and effective representation, councils must review their representation arrangements at least once every six years.
The review asks how many elected members there should be in a district and how they should be elected.
It considers wards, their boundaries, names, and how many councillors are elected to each.
A representation review is also an opportunity to review the number of community boards, the number of members and subdivision boundaries.
A community engagement programme will take place as part of the development of an initial proposal on the structure for elected representation.
The initial proposal then goes through a full consultation and public submission process ahead of the Council meeting on October 28 to adopt the final proposal. Public notification and an appeal period follow.
The opportunity to again consider the establishment of Maori wards followed the Local Electoral Amendment Bill which was passed at Parliament in February this year.
The changes to the Act removed any options for establishing Maori wards other than the Council resolving to have Maori wards.
Previously, local polls with five or more per cent of the voting population could overturn a council’s decision to introduce Maori wards.
Whakatane District Council voted in favour of Maori wards in 2017.
However, this was halted after a petition, signed by 1800 people, met the requirement of being signed by at least five per cent of registered electors.