Carterton District Council will consider introducing a Māori Ward at its next Ordinary Council Meeting, as part of its representation review.
Councils are required under legislation to conduct a representation review every six years, with the previous review taking place in 2017/18 for the 2019 Local Body Elections. During that review, a Māori Ward could not be considered due to the Māori Electoral Population (MEP) having insufficient numbers. However, the MEP has since increased to above the minimum threshold, allowing Council to now formally consider the option of introducing a Māori Ward.
CDC does not currently have a Māori Ward, but instead has has two representatives from Hurunui-o-Rangi Marae on Council, and one representative on each of the Policy and Projects Committee, and the Risk and Assurance Committee. However, while the marae representatives on Committees have voting rights, those on Council are unable to vote. Establishing a Māori Ward would give the Māori Ward Councillor the same opportunities and responsibilities as the other Councillors, meaning they could vote at all Council and Committee meetings. Hapū appointments and the establishment of a Māori Ward can operate together, meaning the Council can choose to establish a Māori Ward while still maintaining its current arrangements with Hurunui-o-Rangi marae.
In addition, a Māori Ward candidate does not necessarily have to be affiliated to any iwi or marae and does not have to be enrolled on the Māori electoral roll. However, a candidate who is elected from a Māori Ward would represent the views of Māori and would deliver accountability by Māori to Māori.
Although public consultation is not required, Council has conducted targeted community engagement with Māori representatives from local hapū, mana whenua and Hapori Māori. The results of this engagement revealed there is a consensus from mana whenua that the establishment of a Māori Ward would be an important opportunity for Māori to be more involved in Council decision-making.
In order to establish a Māori Ward in time for the 2025 and 2028 Local Body Elections, a decision must be made by 23 November 2023.
If the decision is made to implement a Māori Ward, the Council must also have at least one general ward, and may also have councillors being elected ‘at large’. This decision will be made later, and forms part of the wider representation review process. This process will include decisions on the number of councillors, the number of wards and councillors elected ‘at large’ (and community boards as appropriate), and ward boundaries and names.
A full report on this matter can be viewed at www.cdc.govt.nz/meetings. A decision will be made at the Ordinary Council Meeting, at 1pm, Wednesday 25 October at the Carterton Events Centre.