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Time to remove Māori ward discrimination from law

The Green Party is renewing its call to remove the double standard that allows for referendum on the establishment of only Māori wards from law.

It has been confirmed that there will be referendum held during May in Palmerston North, Kaikoura, Manawatū, Western Bay of Plenty and Whakatane, which will likely overturn the decisions of those five districts council’s to establish Māori wards.

“The time has come to remove this discriminatory and racist provision that prevents the establishment of Māori wards right around the country,” said Māori Development spokesperson Marama Davidson.

“As we have seen with previous referendum on Māori wards, the polls that have just been initiated will almost certainly overturn the decisions of local councils.

“It’s unacceptable that indigenous rights to representation are being decided on by the majority, especially when the UN has noted that we have “persistently low” levels of Māori representation in local government.

“In the last term of Parliament I had a Bill drawn which would have removed this provision from the Local Electoral Act, but it was voted down.

“This change has also been called for by Local Government New Zealand who in its 2017 Election Manifesto called the provision ‘anomalous’ and ‘discriminatory’.

“All that we are asking for is for Government to support the leadership of local councils by ensuring the same process for establishing both Māori and general wards.

“I am calling on the Government to do the right thing and stand up in support of Māori representation in local government by removing this double standard,” said Ms Davidson.