Auckland Council votes to reject Māori seats

4:33 pm on 26 October 2023
Mayor Wayne Brown: Budget Proposal

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown abstained during the vote. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

There will be no Māori seats on Auckland Council after the governing body voted against them.

It means there will not be Māori seats on the council's governing body for the 2025 local body elections - which would have required a decision to be made by end of November this year.

Eleven councillors opposed Māori seats, nine councillors supported the proposal, and Mayor Wayne Brown abstained.

Public consultation was conducted between August and September this year, receiving over 11,000 submissions from Māori entities and the wider public.

At a high level, the feedback showed the majority of Māori entities, Māori individuals and local boards support the introduction of Māori seats.

However, 68 percent of submissions from the general public were opposed.

Councillors who opposed the plan said they needed to listen to the result of the public consultation and consider the existing role of the Māori Independent Statutory Board.

Impassioned speeches were heard from councillors supporting the seats, citing obligations under Te Tiriti and the need for Māori representation on Auckland's governing body.

Several Auckland councillors said Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB) alone did not equate with representation in governance, and that Māori wards are needed.

Councillor Kerrin Leoni said while members of the IMSB can sit on committees, all the big decisions were made by the governing body.

Councillor Alf Filipaina added that having councillors who were Māori was not the same as having Māori seats backed by their electoral mandates.

Auckland councillors also voted to defer discussions around Māori representation on Auckland Council until December 2024.

Twelve councillors out of 20, and the mayor, voted to support the mayor's motion to delay the discussions.

The joint governance working party will not be required to report back on a decision until 31 December 2024.