Our Council decides to establish Māori ward or wards

Published on 31 October 2023


In a unanimous vote today, our Council voted that a Māori ward or wards be established in Thames-Coromandel District in time for the 2025 local elections.

Under the Local Electoral Act, this decision now triggers a representation review that will consider the detail of the wards, such as how many and their names and boundaries, and how many councillors in total we will have. This review process is heavily prescribed under the Act and will involve considerable public consultation. However, the review process does not revisit the decision to have Māori wards.

The representation review must be concluded by 31 July 2024.

Today’s decision means our district will have a Māori ward or wards for at least the 2025 and 2028 local elections.

The vote was held in front of a Council Chamber packed with community members, iwi and Māori leaders from across the district. At least a dozen people stood before our Council and spoke in support of establishing Māori wards. The meeting was recorded and you can listen to their comments and the discussion of our Mayor Len Salt and Councillors before voting. That recording will be available later today on our website at tcdc.govt.nz/meetings.

Before the vote, Mayor Len Salt said our Council did not decide who would be on the Council to represent a Māori ward or wards.

“That is a decision for the voters. Our job is simply to decide the framework and to provide advice on the governance and Electoral Act requirements if required. Nor will our Council play any part in who a Māori ward nominee might be, that is not Council’s role. We do have very clear legal obligations set out in the Local Government Act to establish and provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to the decision-making process of the local authority,” says Mayor Len.

“There needs to be an acknowledgement that every Councillor sitting around the table is only as strong as the support they have from the rest of their Council colleagues and from the community. And that’s a big part of what this process is about today,” says Mayor Len.

“I want to address the comment that a number of speakers have said: ‘Thank you for allowing us to be here today’. It’s not for us to allow you to be here, it is your right to be here. That is our starting point, we’re not allowing you, it’s your right to be here,” says Mayor Len.

Councillor Peter Revell thanked those who spoke to our Council before the vote for providing such a strong mandate for establishing Māori wards.

“Can I acknowledge the phenomenal passion, clarity, enthusiasm, humility that I heard this morning. It is a privilege to be here and witness that. Thank you very much one and all,” Councillor Revell says.

To find out more about Māori wards and what the representation review must consider, read the cover report and/or comprehensive report in today’s Council meeting agenda.

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