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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.

Changes to government legislation by the previous Labour Government allowed councils to decide whether to include Māori wards in their representation arrangements.

After a five-month consultation period in 2021 with residents on this matter, Council received 1,300 submissions. Although over half submitted 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 representation review is currently underway. It will decide how many Māori wards will be established and the number of Māori ward representatives for Napier.

The current Government is introducing legislation requiring local authorities to hold a binding poll if they want to establish Māori wards. The Government’s proposed legislation means that because Napier City Council established Māori wards without a poll, we will have to either rescind that decision, or hold a poll at the 2025 election. The poll would ask the community whether we should keep Māori wards beyond the 2025-2028 triennium. If the community’s answer is no, then Māori wards will be removed from the 2028 election.

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.

Under Napier's current ward system, once Māori wards are introduced:
  • People enrolled on the Māori electoral roll for the area could only vote for candidates standing in their Māori ward, plus the mayor.
  • People on the General electoral roll can only vote for candidates from a General Ward, plus the mayor.
If Napier moved to a mixture of wards and at large representatives, then:
  • People enrolled on the Māori electoral roll for the area could only vote for candidates standing in their Māori ward, plus the mayor, plus at large candidates.
  • People on the General electoral roll can only vote for candidates from a General Ward, plus the mayor, plus at large candidates.

The 2024 Representation Review will decide how Napier's local democracy will be arranged.

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. Based on current estimates there would be two Māori ward members in Council. This could be arranged as either one ward for the entire city with two representatives, or two wards for the city with one representative in each. A decision on this arrangement will be part of the 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.

The 2024 Representation Review is currently underway.

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.

Napier City Council's Ngā Mānukanuka o te Iwi (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.


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