Te Kaunihera a rohe o Tamatea / Central Hawke’s Bay District Council voted in favour of Māori wards and invited hapū to select up to two representatives for Māori representation in an advisory role for the 2025 and 2028 elections on Wednesday 15 November 2023. Read the full media release here.
Māori hold a special and unique position as Mana Whenua of Tamatea Central Hawke’s Bay. There are nine marae across Tamatea and 21 iwi/hapū. The decision on Māori representation is important. It’s about how democratic leadership and decision-making in Central Hawke’s Bay can best reflect the role of Mana Whenua, and ensures democratic representation in an equitable way for Māori.
Council has legislative responsibility for this under the Local Government Act 2002, Resource Management Act, new Spatial Planning Act, Natural and Built Environment Acts 2023, and Treaty Settlement legislation of Heretaunga Tamatea. Council is required to review its representation arrangements at least once every six years. The Local Electoral Act 2001 gives Council the ability to establish separate wards for Māori electors.
For the first time, Mana Whenua of Tamatea Central Hawke’s Bay, via representatives on Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea, had requested Council consider Māori wards as part of partnership, rangatiratanga and representation in this rohe (district).
Before deciding, Council asked for public feedback.
Between 29 September 2023 and 27 October, feedback was sought from the community via a survey, media, social media, the council website and community drop-in sessions held in Waipukurau, Pōrangahau and Takapau. This followed engagement with mana whenua from August 2023 involving kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) meetings, conversations and written correspondence with marae, Tamatea Pokai Whenua (Heretaunga Tamatea Settlement Trust) Trustees, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated leadership.
There will be more work to ensure everything is in place in time for the 2025 local government elections. The next step is a formal representation review, which councils must conduct by law every six years. This review will determine the total number of councillors, the number and make up of wards and ward boundaries and names. This publicly notified process will start next year.
Representation of Māori at the Council table is important to ensure Council decisions provide for and increase the participation of Māori in decision-making. Options that Council could consider included:
A committee structure can be used to seek views and feedback from Mana Whenua on key decisions of Council. For a short period many years ago, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council had a Standing Committee with representatives appointed from each marae. Committees can bring direct representation very close to Council business, but are disconnected from the final decision-making of elected Council.
Some Councils use appointments to council and/or Committees as a way to ensure representation for Māori. In Central Hawke’s Bay, we have had an appointed role to council for many years, most recently called a Kaiārahi Matua. This role works directly with elected Councillors and provides valuable guidance to decisions but does not, by legislation, have an actual vote.
Māori wards provide a way for Māori to directly contribute to decision-making by having representation and a vote at the Council table. Those enrolled on the Māori electoral roll vote for candidates standing for Māori wards. Similarly, those enrolled on the general electoral roll will vote for candidates standing for general wards.
Council currently has two wards - the rural Aramoana/Ruahine ward and the urban Ruataniwha ward. The introduction of a Māori ward would have those on the Māori electoral role no longer voting for those general wards. The number of Māori Councillors in the Māori ward(s) would be determined in the next step of Council’s representation review planned for early 2024, based on a formula in the Local Electoral Act 2001.
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council recognises Te Tiriti o Waitangi as New Zealand’s founding document, and the special and unique position of Mana Whenua of Tamatea - Central Hawke’s Bay District. Central Hawke’s Bay District Council conducted a representation review in 2011 and then again in 2018. Based on feedback from the community and Mana Whenua, during these reviews Council resolved not to establish Māori wards. Now the community has a further opportunity to consider Māori wards.
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