The Green Party has today entered a Member’s Bill into the ballot that would make local government representation more equitable by ensuring that the establishment of both Māori and general wards on district and regional councils follows the same legal process.
Currently, the establishment of Māori wards in local government can be put to a referendum, whereas general wards can’t be – they are decided by councils alone. MP Marama Davidson’s Local Electoral (Equitable Process for Establishing Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill would right this wrong by ensuring an equitable process.
“I’m really excited to be launching my new Member’s Bill today, which will ensure that the process for establishing Māori wards at a local government level is equitable and fair, and honours our commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” said Green Party Māori development spokesperson Marama Davidson.
“This unfair double standard in our electoral law works to limit Māori representation at local government level throughout the country. Removing this discriminatory provision is the right thing to do.
“My Bill is inspired by the work of former New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd, who unsuccessfully tried to establish a Māori ward in his district, and presented a petition to Parliament on this issue. We’re really proud to have Andrew’s support for this Bill.
“Ensuring that the establishment of Māori and general wards follows the same process is the very least we can do to ensure better Māori representation in local government so that our people have a voice in the decisions that affect us.
“The United Nations has noted that Aotearoa has ‘persistently low representation’ of Māori in local government positions. This is undoubtedly made worse by this double standard for establishing Māori wards.
“The Green Party has a proud history of standing up to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This is a continuation of our work as the political leaders on advancing kaupapa Māori and honouring Te Tiriti,” Ms Davidson said.