28 Feb 2012

Nelson ratepayers to vote on creation of Maori ward

8:46 pm on 28 February 2012

Nelson ratepayers will have the chance in just over two months' time to decide whether or not a Maori ward will be created in time for the 2013 local government elections.

Last November the Nelson City Council became the first unitary authority (a city council with the powers of a regional council) in New Zealand to vote in favour of a Maori ward.

But some residents who were against the idea organised a petition calling for the council to conduct a poll on the issue.

The council's chief executive Keith Marshall says the petition, which required the signatures of 5% of electors, passed the threshold by just 35 signatures.

He says the issue is complicated by a recent local government decision approving the merger of the Nelson City and Tasman District Councils, which also requires a poll.

Mr Marshall says the time frame is tight, as the results of the merger poll are due on 21 April, only a few days before postal voting forms are sent out to ratepayers on the Maori ward poll.