Nine new Māori ward councillors likely for Northland

4:08 pm on 14 September 2021

Nine new Māori ward councillors will likely join Northland's local government political lineup next year.

Far North District Council head office. Kaikohe.

Far North District Council would have four new Māori ward councillors. Photo: Northern Advocate / Peter de Graaf

Of the region's proposed 44 local government councillors, 22 percent will come from new designated Māori wards for the first time, under representation reviews currently being considered.

Northland has among New Zealand's highest Māori population. About 50 percent of Far North people identify as Māori, along with 30 percent in Whangārei and 25 percent of Kaipara.

Four new Māori ward councillors will be from Far North District Council (FNDC), two from Whangarei District Council (WDC), one from Kaipara District Council (KDC) and two from Northland Regional Council (NRC).

Northland is the only region in New Zealand with all its councils bringing in Māori wards - and as a result doing representation reviews - for the October 2022 local government elections. Northland will likely have four Māori wards - one for each of its councils.

FNDC's Ngā Tai o Tokerau Māori Ward, KDC's Te Moananui o Kaipara, WDC's Whangarei District Māori Ward and NRC's new Te Raki Māori constituency, are key components of the biggest changes to Northland's local government in more than 30 years.

Northland Regional Council chair Penny Smart said her council eventually wanted to set up individual Māori constituencies, but was starting with a single constituency for the 2022 elections.

"We recognise that this is a complex matter that needs time to get it right," Smart said.

NRC was proposing reviewing the single constituency in the next council term, when it better understood how Māori representation worked, she said.

FNDC has said it would be looking similarly at its Māori representation going forward.

So, 35 of Northland's councillors will be from general wards, nine from Māori wards.

Northland's total local government politicians current 42-strong lineup will increase by two. Population growth in Mangawhai (KDC) and the Far North, particularly around Kerikeri-Bay of Islands (FNDC), has resulted in two new councillors proposed for Northland - one for each of these two councils.

Willliam Taylor, FNDC general manager corporate services said the Far North's population had increased by 10,000 people since 2015, the proposed new councillor a result.

That extra person means FNDC having 10 councillors, which in turn enables it to have four Māori ward councillors.

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