11 Apr 2016

Push for law change on Maori wards

12:22 pm on 11 April 2016

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd is spearheading a call for Parliament to change the law for the establishment of Maori wards on district councils.

New Plymouth

Photo: 123rf

No local council has managed to established a Māori ward under the current rules.

Under the Local Electoral Act 2001 the creation of a Maori ward can be challenged by 5 percent of voters.

Last year, New Plymouth voters overwhelmingly rejected the introduction of a Maori ward in the district. In a citizens-initiated referendum on the issue, 83 percent of those who voted were against the proposal.

Mr Judd, who unsuccessfully championed the introduction of the Maori ward, said he wanted the same rules to apply as for any other local government ward.

"The country has come up with models to address the lack of poor representation not just for Māori but across the whole country and councils and communities have shown if you give them the tools to take these away they will."

He said what his district did to Māori was unfair and it would take strong leadership to address the wrongs of the past in order to move forward.

Maori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said he had accepted a request from Mr Judd to present a petition to Parliament calling for a law change. He said the current law disadvantaged Maori and a change was long overdue.