Local Government NZ (LGNZ) is calling on the Government to “play fair” on Māori wards and constituencies, saying a proposal to re-establish referenda on the wards will take local government backwards.
“For these rules to only apply to the establishment of Māori wards and constituencies and not all wards show a lack of fairness,” said LGNZ President Sam Broughton
“Others such as rural wards do not need a referendum. We say the Government needs to either apply them to all wards and constituencies or none at all.”
Currently, councils can make decisions about the establishment of Māori wards and constituencies.
“No one is forced, it is a choice,” said Mr Broughton.
“Empowering local government to make decisions about their own communities is what this Government campaigned on and contradicts this Government’s view on Māori wards and constituencies.
“We are asking that the Government express confidence in local government to make those choices for ourselves. We are accountable to our constituents and are voted in to make decisions on behalf of them.
“We now have the highest representation of Māori elected members in local government ever. The Government’s proposal risks the mana of our Māori elected members and their rightful, elected place on councils.”
Mr Broughton said it was “abundantly clear” that the introduction of Māori wards and constituencies had empowered more Māori to stand.
“Claims that a Māori wards and constituencies give Māori more votes than anyone else are wrong and politicians should think carefully before inflaming these important conversations with misinformation,” he said.