Māori voters who responded to a Horizons Regional Council survey overwhelmingly support bringing in Māori wards next year.
Councillors have been given the results of a Horizons survey mailed to nearly 18,500 individuals on the Māori electoral roll who are enrolled to vote in the Horizons region.
Ninety-six percent of the responses were in favour of the regional council establishing Māori constituencies in time for next year's local body elections.
The survey was also publicly available for completion online. Most responses were received from people enrolled on the Māori electoral roll, and more than 90 percent were residents or ratepayers in the region.
Overall, 1649 responses were received, showing that 1472 people support introducing Māori wards in the Horizons region in 2022, and 152 oppose.
A significant majority (95.5 percent) of the responses from Māori on either the Māori or the general roll want Māori wards.
Of the 170 non-Māori who completed the survey, just over half (86 people) did not want Māori wards.
The council also received two letters outside of the survey opposing Māori constituencies, and staff also received feedback by phone and in person from people expressing concerns, including that the survey had been sent to voters on the Māori roll only.
Horizons regional councillor Nicola Patrick, who has advocated strongly for Māori wards, said councillors wanted to hear directly from those who would most be affected.
"The survey results are pretty clear. There's overwhelming positive support for Māori wards from those most affected, those on the Māori roll.
"I remember when we discussed this as a council we said we were going to put a lot of weight on that feedback. It will be really interesting to see our discussion on Wednesday and we really don't have long to wait to see the outcome of whether we're going ahead or not."
The council also emailed 23 iwi and hapū chairs to inform them of the council's decision to consider establishing Māori representation and ask for their views. Letters of support were received from Rangitāne o Manawatū, Maniapoto Māori Trust Board and Te Kotahitanga o Ngāti Tūwharetoa.
Horizons will consider the results at its meeting in Palmerston North on Wednesday.
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