Hamilton council to revisit Māori wards decision

2:30 pm on 7 April 2021

The Hamilton City Council is to revisit its decision not to establish Māori wards for next year's local body election.

Hamilton mayoral candidate Paula Southgate

Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Last week it voted against the proposal 8-4, instead deciding to strengthen Māori participation on council committees.

A majority of councillors have now formally sought to revoke the decision and it will go back to the council next week to consider a new motion of introducing Māori wards but only after consultation with the community.

A final decision will be made on 19 May.

Mayor Paula Southgate said she was acutely aware of how deeply hurt some people had been by last week's decision.

"I understand people's frustration and hurt and I have felt that myself very keenly, but my concern has always been to take people with you."

She supported the move to revisit the decision, on the proviso that there would be wider community engagement before a final decision was made.

"That was important to me and important to others."

She said a poll was not an option, however.

"No, those days are well gone. What I want and what I think councillors also want is an opportunity to socialise the issue with people more widely so they understand what we are seeking to achieve."

"In saying that, the final decision will be council's."

The decision last week led to the resignation of Hemi Rau, one of five Maangai Māori representatives on council committees.

"I understand Hemi's frustration and while I respect his decision, I am saddened by it. We are looking to strengthen the Māori voice around our table and he would have had a role in that going forward," Southgate said.

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