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Porirua votes for Māori ward

Ngati toa-Pou and meeting house.jpg

Porirua City Council have voted to establish a Māori ward in the city for the 2022 and 2025 local body elections.

The decision was passed unanimously at this morning’s full Council meeting, councillors and Mayor Anita Baker commenting it was an effective mechanism for local government to engage with Māori.

Ms Baker said this was a "no-brainer".

"We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for mana whenua - we have that relationship with them already but they do not have that last vote around the Council table and that is frustrating, so local government need to fix that. I look forward to the changes that will make our community stronger."

Ngāti Toa kaumatua Taku Parai, who has a seat at all Council’s meetings, said this decision would strengthen the partnership between his iwi and Porirua City Council that has existed for some time.

"The relationship has always been strong and solid and long may that continue. There is nothing to be afraid of - we will walk alongside the city and help it grow," he said.

Under a formula in the Local Electoral Act, taking into consideration the number on the Māori electoral roll in the city, there would be one member elected onto a possible Māori ward in Porirua. Most of Porirua’s Māori population trace their whakapapa to elsewhere so there is no guarantee that a Māori elected member would be from Ngāti Toa.

The Council intends to retain all its current provisions relating to mana whenua including voting membership of all committees except full Council (currently precluded in the Local Government Act) and its strong partnership arrangements around both policy and operational matters.

Council now has to carry out a representation review, which will call for public submissions, likely in September.

Three councils in NZ established Māori wards prior to the 2019 local elections, and 17 councils have resolved to establish Māori ward or wards in the current local government triennium.

Porirua City councillors were unanimous in their support, and all spoke in favour of the move.

Deputy Mayor Izzy Ford: "When it comes to Māori representation, the people in Porirua normally get it right… but we cannot confirm that will be the case in years to come."

Geoff Hayward: "Every decision we make at this table is part of the journey with mana whenua. Māori wards are a good mechanism for enhancing Māori participation in local government."

Josh Trlin: "We must constantly seek to improve and build on what we have to ensure our model of governance is fit for purpose. It isn’t what I personally think - it’s about what I as a councillor can do to empower mana whenua to engage in a meaningful partnership."

Nathan Waddle: "This is a small step in a much bigger picture for Aotearoa."

Faafoi Seiuli: "This is a way forward for Council and representing tangata whenua."

Moze Galo: "This is something I can change for Porirua."

Euon Murrell: "It will mean a representation review for Porirua, let’s get on and do it. I totally support this and am looking forward to the ongoing relationship we have with Ngāti Toa."

Mike Duncan: "This is something of the future... I’ve had a lot of clarification lately so I’ll be supporting this."

Kylie Wihapi: "We have a good relationship with our mana whenua because I can tell you, other local authorities around New Zealand are not that lucky."

Ross Leggett: "It’s an entirely logical step... this will be an extension of what we already have with mana whenua."

20 May 2021