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Māori Wards

In 2021 Napier City Council consulted with the public on the establishment of Māori wards in Napier. Council resolved to introduce Māori Wards for the 2025 local body elections.

Recent changes to government legislation allow councils to make a decision on whether or not to include Māori wards in their representation arrangements.

We began public engagement, taking a two-staged approach for consultation on Māori wards. This allowed for pre-consultation engagement from May to August 2021, before formal consultation, including hearings, which took place in September 2021.

The five-month consultation period resulted in 1300 submissions being made and although over half wrote against Māori wards, 95% of those on the Māori roll submitted in favour. All those who spoke to their submissions over the two-day hearings were in favour of Māori wards. 

On 20 October 2021, Napier City Council resolved to introduce Māori Wards for the 2025 local body elections. The vote was carried 11 votes in favour with one abstention and with strong and resounding support voiced by councillors. 

A representational review will now take place, which will decide how many wards will be established and how many councillors will make up Napier City Council. 

A Council may establish Māori wards for their city or district.

Similar to the Māori Parliamentary seats, Māori wards establish areas where only those on the Māori Parliamentary electoral roll vote for the candidates in that Ward. The Māori wards sit alongside the general wards of each city or district.

The aim of Māori wards is to ensure Māori are represented in local government decision making, like the dedicated electorate seats in Parliament.

People enrolled on the Māori electoral roll for the area can vote for candidates standing in their Māori ward.
Electors on the Māori electoral roll can only vote for candidates from a Māori Ward.
Electors on the General electoral roll can only vote for candidates from a General Ward.
People vote either in a Māori ward or a general ward – plus a vote for the Mayor.

If you are of Māori descent you can enrol in either the General or Māori electoral rolls.
If you are not of Māori descent you can only enrol on the General Electoral roll
You can find more information about the Māori Electoral Option on the Electoral Commission’s website.

To be eligible to stand for election, a candidate must be:

  • A New Zealand citizen (by birth or citizenship ceremony); and
  • Enrolled as a Parliamentary elector (anywhere in New Zealand); and
  • Nominated by two electors whose names appear on the electoral roll within the ward a candidate is standing for. Candidates in Māori Wards do not need to be of Māori descent, but they do need to be on the parliamentary electoral roll.

Candidates cannot stand for both a General ward and a Māori ward at the same time.

No. Once elected, all elected members, whether elected from General or Māori wards, take a formal oath of office to represent the entire community.

The numbers of Māori wards is set in a formula in the Local Government Act based on a ratio of Māori electoral population and the total electoral population. Should Napier implement Māori ward(s), based on current estimates there would likely be two Māori ward members in Council. If a decision is made to establish Māori wards, this would be included as part of a representation review in 2024.

The Representation Review process determines how the council is made up, including:

  • The number of councillors to be elected
  • The basis of election for councillors (wards, boundaries and names of those wards)
  • Whether there are to be community boards in the district, where they might be, and what their membership arrangements are.

We have an obligation under the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) and a commitment to

  • take appropriate account of the Treaty principles, and these are intended to facilitate participation by Māori in local authority decision-making processes.
  • establish, maintain and improve processes to provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority
  • consider ways in which it may foster the development of Māori capacity to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority; and
  • provide relevant information to Māori for the purposes of their contribution to decision making and fostering their capacity to contribute.

We have recently made changes to the membership arrangements on our Māori Committee to ensure mana whenua and community representation. The Māori Committee provides a critical role in council’s decision-making process.
Please read our Local Governance Statement, which includes information about how Napier City Council will encourage/support Māori to participate (pg 37) - Local Governance Statement 2019/2022

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