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Māori wards

On 28 April, 2021 Council voted to establish a Māori ward for the 2022 and 2025 elections.

This decision means that those on the Māori electoral roll will be able to elect members to the Māori ward/s in the next two elections. The number of Māori seats on Council will be determined by a representation review later this year, which will look at how the whole district is represented, however, the decision to have a Māori ward will not be able to be overturned as part of that process.

This decision is about making sure the whole community is represented on Council, for councillors to be able to make good decisions that accurately reflect the views and needs of the community.

Council made this decision following a change to legislation earlier this year, which enabled council to establish Māori wards for the 2022 elections, without the potential for a binding poll generated by just 5 per cent of electors. Other councils have sought to establish Māori Wards in the past, and have had the decision overturned following a binding poll. Otorohanga District Council have similarly recently established a Māori Ward, and Hamilton City and Waipa District Councils are working through consultation processes before making a final decision.

Council took guidance from Te Manawhenua Forum mo Matamata-Piako (the standing committee of Council who facilitate tangata whenua contribution to decision making), who unanimously supported establishing Maori Wards for the 2022 elections. Mana whenua advocated for Council to make this decision, saying it will make local decision-making fairer and more inclusive.

Why create a Māori ward?

It is important that the whole community is represented on Council for councillors to be able to make good decisions that accurately reflect the views and needs of the community.

However, Matamata-Piako District Council currently has no councillors that identify as Māori, despite people of Māori descent making up about 20 per cent of the district’s population (2018 Census). In fact, since 1989 Māori representation on Council has been very limited and not proportionate to the Māori population of Matamata-Piako.

Establishing a Māori ward for the district will:

  • help bring forward the views and aspirations of whānau, hapū and iwi on Council matters.
  • ensure local decision-making is fairer and more inclusive.
  • represent a sector of the community that is currently not represented at the Council table
  • provide stronger Māori representation as Matamata-Piako continues to learn more about its heritage and history.