Greater Wellington Regional Council to consider Māori seat at table

7:00 pm on 27 July 2020

Greater Wellington Regional Council will discuss introducing a Māori seat at its top table for its 2022 election.

Jervois Quay

Jervois Quay Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The board of the authority, which manages environmental protection across Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, Kāpiti Coast, Porirua, and the capital, will consider the representation of a Māori constituency in its September meeting.

The news comes one week after South Wairarapa District Council voted to maintain the status quo on its electoral structures.

Changes put to the councillors included the option of a Māori ward.

Greater Wellington Regional Council last considered the matter in 2017 and, as an outcome, the status quo was retained.

GWRC's Ara Tahi Māori advisory body will provide GWRC's board with a recommendation to consider on the constituency.

Ara Tahi includes two representatives from each of the six iwi in the region, including Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Wairarapa.

Wairarapa GWRC deputy chair and member Adrienne Staples, and chair Daran Ponter are the council's representatives.

Staples said GWRC committed to working closely with the iwi through Ara Tahi after its 2017 discussion.

"We are working with iwi for a model that suits their needs, rather than us telling them what the council wants.

"We're working on a strengthened model for Ara Tahi, based on iwi needs.

"We are committed to working with iwi in a partnership model."

Across New Zealand, three authorities - Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, and Wairoa District Council - have specific tangata whenua representation on their boards.

The latter is the only district, currently.

In New Plymouth, where a debate has been held for several years on representation, the district council voted this week to introduce a Māori ward for its 2022 elections.

This came after a concerted campaign by local iwi, and the Taranaki town's Wairarapa-born former mayor Andrew Judd.

Judd stood down in 2016 after a plebiscite reversed an earlier vote to install the ward.

Local government legislation allows regional councils to consider establishing a Māori constituency, through a resolution.

The region's councillors will debate the matter at their 24 September meeting.

If GWRC chooses to proceed with the recommendation, a public notice will be published by 1 October.

If at least 5 percent of the electorate requests a poll - as happened in New Plymouth in 2015 - the council must hold a vote to confirm, ahead of the scheduled elections.

If a local authority wants to consider the matter, legislation says a decision must be made by 23 November this year.

A poll may be held at any time, but for the outcome of the poll to take effect at the next triennial election, it must be completed by 21 May 2021.

Timeline for change

What would happen if GWRC chooses to recommend a Māori constituency?


  • 24 September: GWRC meeting with the constituency as an agenda item. Council can resolve to proceed.
  • 1 October: The last day a public notice on the council's recommendation.
  • 23 November: The latest day, according to current local election legislation, a New Zealand territorial authority can announce changes to its electoral structure ahead of the 2022 elections.
  • 2021

  • 21 February: Latest date council can resolve to hold a poll for effect at the 2022 elections.
  • 21 May: The latest day a council, such as GWRC, could hold a poll of electors to vote for or against electoral changes.
  • 2022

  • July/August: Campaigning for elections begins.
  • September: Postal vote begins.
  • 8 October: Next scheduled local elections.
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