Thursday 12 Apri 2018
MĀORI WARDS FOR WESTERN BAY OF PLENTY DISTRICT COUNCIL?
Western Bay of Plenty District Council electors have the opportunity to have their say on whether one or more Māori wards are established (in addition to general wards). This follows a decision by Council elected members late last year to establish one or more Māori wards for the next two local government elections in 2019 and 2022, as provided for in the Local Electoral Act 2001.
Members of Māori wards would be elected by people who are enrolled on the Māori Parliamentary Electoral Roll. Electors of Māori wards would not be able to vote for members of general wards. Similarly, people who are enrolled on the General Parliamentary Electoral Roll would vote for members of the general wards, but not for members of Māori wards. All electors would still vote for the Mayor and community board members.
POLL ON MĀORI WARDS
Following the successful public demand for a poll, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council is required to hold a binding poll to decide whether one or more Māori wards are to be established for the next triennial elections in 2019 and 2022. People eligible to vote in the poll are:
- All residential electors who are registered on the General and Māori Parliamentary Electoral Rolls and live in the Western Bay Of Plenty District;
- All non-resident ratepayer electors who live outside of the Western Bay of Plenty District, but own property within the District and have enrolled on the Ratepayer Electoral Roll.
RESULTS OF THE POLL
The results of this poll will be binding on the Council for the next two triennial elections in 2019 and 2022. If a majority of voters oppose the establishment of one or more Māori wards, the matter cannot be considered again until 2023. If a majority of voters support the establishment of one or more Māori wards, the Council must reflect this when it reviews its representation arrangements later this year.
This review would involve a Council decision on:
- The number of general and Māori wards;
- The number of members to be elected from general and Māori wards;
- The ward boundaries and names;
- Community Boards;
- Communities of interest.
The community’s views on the representation proposal are then sought through a formal consultation process.
If the outcome of the poll supports the establishment of one or more Māori wards, the number of Māori ward members is determined by a legislative formula, based on the Māori and general electoral populations of the Western Bay of Plenty District.
With Council’s current representation structure this would mean that one member would be elected to represent one Māori ward; and 10 members would be elected to represent the general wards.
The following legislative references relating to Māori representation and participation in local government are provided for information.
- The principle of the Local Electoral Act 2001 that relates to representation is to implement ‘(a) fair and effective representation for individuals and communities’ (Section 4(1)(a) Local Electoral Act 2001);
- One of the purposes of local government is: (a) to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities (section 10(1)(a), Local Government Act 2002);
- It is a principle of the Local Government Act 2002 that a local authority should provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to its decision-making process (section 14(1)(d));
- ‘A local authority must: (a) establish and maintain processes to provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority; and (b) consider ways in which it may foster the development of Māori capacity to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority’ (section 81 (1) (a) and (b) Local Government Act 2002).
SOME RELEVANT CONSIDERATIONS
Considerations relevant to a decision on the establishment of one or more Māori wards include:
- Māori wards could provide more effective, direct representation for tangata whenua of the District in Council decision-making processes;
- All elected members are required to act in the best interests of the whole of the Western Bay of Plenty District, not just for their own ward;
- Māori ward representatives could better relate to the needs of Māori communities and provide the Council with a greater understanding of Māori issues and concerns;
- Māori wards may encourage more Māori to participate in local government, by standing for office and voting at local elections;
- Approximately 14% of the Western Bay of Plenty District’s electoral population is Māori, but this is not reflected in the current representation on Council;
- Māori have an equal right to stand for Council and to vote at local elections and therefore may not need separate electoral representation;
- Council could improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to decision-making by other means, such as through Māori consultative groups, or appointments to committees.
HAVE YOUR SAY
The result of the Māori Wards Poll is important in determining how members will be elected to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council at the 2019 and 2022 local government elections. The voting period for this poll is Friday 27 April 2018 until 12 noon, Saturday 19 May 2018.
Haven't receIved voting information?
If you believe you are eligible to vote but haven’t received a voting document by Thursday 3 May please check that you are enrolled to vote and contact the electoral office for a special vote - 0800 922 822.
For more information, please contact: