26 Oct 2023

Greater Wellington Regional Council approves Māori Constituency for 2025

5:31 pm on 26 October 2023
From the dawn ceremony for the unveiling and naming of Parliament's new Te Kahui Mouri.

Kara Puketapu-Dentice says the council's responsibilities did not end with the new seat. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Greater Wellington Regional Council says the establishment of a Māori Constituency will create a permanent place for Māori voices in the region's governance.

The council voted to include the representation in local government elections for 2025. It comes on the same day that Auckland City Council voted against Māori seats.

Greater Wellington's first elected Māori councillor and Te Tiriti o Waitangi Komiti chairperson Hikitia Ropata said the move was an important step in honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

"A Māori constituency creates a permanent place for a Māori voice at the regional governance table, ensuring the voices of mana whenua and mātāwaka (kinship groups) will be heard, embedded, and carried forward by future councils and their decisions," Ropata said.

Data collected for 2022 showed Māori made up 8.17 percent of the region's total electoral population.

Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Taranaki Whānui ki te Ūpoko o te Ika, Rangitāne ō Wairarapa and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa all stood in support of the constituency.

Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira chief executive Helmut Modlik said the decision was a step towards "strengthening the governance of our region and nation". 

"I commend Greater Wellington for their wisdom. We look forward to building stronger communities and realising the benefits of this decision together."

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Daran Ponter. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter said the council would continue to build strong, equitable partnerships with mana whenua.

"We are joining the many councils across Aotearoa who have welcomed a Māori constituency in recent years. We understand our obligations under Te Tiriti go beyond establishing this constituency, and we expect the councillor who represents it will help us honour those commitments," Ponter said.

Local Government Professionals Aotearoa said, last year, 29 nine territorial councils and six regional council included Māori wards or constituencies in local elections.

Taranaki Whānui chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice said introducing Māori wards was a positive step, but the council's responsibilities did not end there.

"Taranaki Whānui insists this must not come at the expense of undermining Te Tiriti promises, and the bond between mana whenua and Greater Wellington," Dentice said.

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