Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Govt votes for referendums on Māori wards

The Government has announced it will restore the rights of communities to determine whether to introduce Māori wards via local referendums.

Local Government Minister, Simeon Brown says a Bill will be introduced in the coming months that will restore the ability for communities to petition their councils to hold binding polls on Māori ward decisions.

This will include holding binding polls on wards that were established without the ability for local referendums to take place.

“The Coalition Government will reverse the previous government’s divisive changes that denied local communities the ability to determine whether to establish Māori wards. Local community members deserve to have a say in their governance arrangements,” said Mr Brown.

Restoring the right to local referendums on the establishment and ongoing use of Māori wards is a commitment under both the ACT and NZ First coalition agreements with National.

“The Coalition Government’s view is that any decision to establish or disestablish a Māori ward is one that should remain with communities. This does not affect councils’ responsibilities to consult with mana whenua on issues that affect them.”

The Coalition Government has announced its intentions today to give councils greater certainty as they prepare for local body elections in 2025.

“As signalled in our coalition agreements, affected councils will be required to hold a poll alongside the 2025 elections. The results of these polls will be binding on councils and will take effect for the local government term beginning October 2028.

“If councils do not wish to hold a poll, those councils will be given the opportunity to reverse their decision to establish Māori wards or to disestablish those wards prior to the 2025 local body elections,” Minister Brown said.

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