Referendums for Māori wards a racist step backwards

The Government's imposed referendum on Māori wards is a racist step backwards for Māori representation, and disregards Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“This three headed taniwha government has continued their legislative attack on Māori and undermining progress made by local councils,  by imposing a referendum on Māori wards.” Says Green Party Māori Development spokesperson, Hūhana Lyndon.

“Māori wards were established to ensure equitable representation in local government. They are an essential mechanism that empower the unique voices, experiences and needs of Māori to be adequately represented and acknowledged in all decision-making processes.

“It’s diabolical that indigenous rights to representation which have already been secured are now being subject to an extra hurdle and risk being unwound, especially when the UN has noted that we have “persistently low” levels of Māori representation in local government.

“Councils with Māori wards have already followed robust processes. Introducing a new requirement is a blatant attempt to suppress marginalised voices ahead of next year’s local body elections. Local government must instead be supported to fully uphold  Te Tiriti o Waitangi, our nation's founding document which affirms the tino rangatiratanga rights of iwi and hapū. Māori wards were a small step towards redressing the legacy of local government that ignores Māori concerns.  

“These referendums are not only a barrier to establishing desperately needed Māori wards but they can also deter councils from trying to get the wards in the first place.

“This government is quickly establishing themselves to be one of the most inherently racist, anti-evidence and anti-Te Tiriti governments our country has ever seen.

“The Green Party unequivocally stands with tangata whenua seeking a voice in government.  We are steadfast in our commitment to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi and improve Māori representation, inclusion and engagement across local and central government,” says Hūhana Lyndon. 

Green Party local government spokesperson, Celia Wade-Brown added: "This Government gives lip service to localism but is riding roughshod over Councils."