A karakia rang out across Kaipara District Council's monthly meeting on 29 March, just four months after new Mayor Craig Jepson banned its use.
Designated councillor Eryn Wilson-Collins opened the meeting in Mangawhai with the karakia which has been optional and used for a number of years by those who wished to say it.
"Kia hora te marino,
Kia whakapapa pounamu to moana
Hei huarahi mā tātou I te rangi nei
Aroha atu, aroha mai
Tātou i a tātou katoa
Hui e! Tāiki e!" Wilson-Collins said.
"May peace be widespread, may the sea be like greenstone, a pathway for us all this day, let us show respect for each other, for one another, bind us all together," she said.
Wilson-Collins' karakia came not long before Baylys Beach resident and Iraqi-born Samah Huriwai-Seger addressed councillors, pleading for the reintroduction of the karakia at the start of every meeting - as supporters Mirinia Arana-Pou and Careen Davis unfurled a "protect our karakia" banner alongside Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson.
The mayor in November controversially shut down Te Moananui o Kaipara Māori ward councillor Pera Paniora's (Ngāphui, Ngāti Porou, Te Atī Awa) efforts to open the first meeting of the newly elected council with a karakia.
He subsequently banned the use of karakia to open every council meeting, causing community outrage, a 6000-signature petition calling for him to step down and a hikoi of hundreds through Dargaville against the move.
In December councillors voted to develop a new meeting start approach. Each councillor would take it in turn to start the meeting with a reflection of their choice. This task rotates around the 10-member council in first name alphabetical order.
The reflection is to be said immediately before the formal start of each council meeting, rather than after the meeting officially begins.
Councillor Ash Nayyar, of Indian descent, opened December's meeting with a karakia.
Mayor Jepson controversially read out comment from conservative United States economist Thomas Sowell as his reflection at the next council meeting in Mangawhai in February this year. Sowell once said Donald Trump was better than Barack Obama.
"When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination," Jepson told the meeting.
Paniora took issue with this.
Jepson then went on to shut down Baylys Beach's Pere Huriwai-Seger (Ngāphui, Ngāti Porou, Te Atī Awa), who stood up in the public gallery to say a karakia after the mayor's reflection.
Pere's wife Samah Huriwai-Seger told councillors on Wednesday the karakia to start meetings was the only small piece of Māori culture in the colonial council system and not too much to ask for.
"The karakia is a small gesture .. that embodies the Māori world view."
Its absence meant many people in Kaipara felt discriminated against, Seger said
"Having the karakia is a small token to say 'we see you, we know you exist.'"
She said its absence was like the council trying to erase Māori.
"I am a citizen of Kaipara, originally from Iraq," Seger said.
She said her parents had reacted when told what was happening at the meetings by saying such action was racist.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air