24 Sep 2014

Doubts Maori ward will be established

7:25 pm on 24 September 2014

A tribe fighting for more than a decade to get iwi representation on the New Plymouth District Council doubts that a guaranteed Maori ward will be established.

The decision won by seven votes to six last night, and so infuriated outspoken councillor John McLeod that he tabled his resignation on the spot.

The ward is expected to be introduced at the next local government elections in 2016.

A trustee on the post-settlement trust of Te Atiawa, Peter Moeahu, has spent 12 years lobbying for Maori wards.

Mr Moeahu is pleased with the council's decision, and hopes it will happen. Iwi would have have prefered more than one ward, he says, and believes the council is treading carefully. He says Grey Power has vowed to fight against establishing it.

Mr Moeahu said mayor Andrew Judd is trying to strip away racial disharmony within local government.

Mr Moeahu believes some councillors do not want a dedicated ward, saying they hide behind words such as democracy and aparthied. But he said it is just racism, which Mr Judd wants addressed.

Mr Moeahu says he thinks a Maori ward is a good idea for Maori and the community. He is eager for a Maori representative to be installed, saying they will be accountable to iwi, hapu and their needs.

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