Napier City Council is planning for consultation and engagement regarding the establishment of Māori wards in the city.
The proposed consultation with mana whenua and the community is planned for the coming months, and will allow Councillors to make a decision on Māori ward(s) by November.
This timeline, however, means the Council will miss the Government deadline of 21 May 2021, as outlined in an amendment to The Local Electoral Act 2001, which came into effect on 2 March 2021.
“Council must consider the views of the whole community, including all stakeholders who will be impacted by the decision-making processes,” says Napier Mayor, Kirsten Wise.
“Unfortunately the two and a half month timeframe set by Central Government has not provided sufficient time for Council to undertake wide-spread consultation on this matter.”
Mana whenua in Napier have voiced their disappointment that the deadline for 2022 elections cannot be met.
Mayor Wise says that she understands the concerns mana whenua have raised with respect to having to wait for 2025 for the potential implementation of Māori ward(s).
“After discussion with our Māori Committee, I have written to Minister Mahuta, the Minister for Local Government, asking that she extends the deadline for Councils to adopt Māori wards in time for 2022 elections,” she said.
“This would allow Council the required time to undertake full and comprehensive consultation and make a decision for the 2022 election.”
Currently a two-phase approach is proposed for consultation on Māori ward(s). Mayor Wise said this would allow for pre-consultation engagement with key stakeholders from May to August, before formal community consultation in September, with a final decision expected in November. She said Napier City Council was also committed to exploring other aspects of Māori representation within Council’s current committee structure.
The Local Electoral Act 2001 provides for the establishment of one or more Māori wards in Napier that will allow those on the Māori Electoral Roll to vote for Councillors to represent Māori in Napier. This is part of a range of legislative provisions put in place by Government with the aim of increasing Māori representation and participation in local authority decision making.