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Māori wards

Should Council establish Māori wards? 

We asked for feedback on whether Council establish Māori wards for Tairāwhiti in time for the 2022 local election. Feedback closed 5pm Friday 13 November

Resolution made at a Council meeting on Monday 23 November 2020

Gisborne District Council has resolved to establish one or more Māori wards for the 2022 and 2025 triennial elections.

The resolution was made at a Council meeting held on Monday 23 November 2020.

Electors of the Gisborne District Council have a right to demand a poll at any time to countermand this resolution and to hold a poll on the question whether Council should be divided into one or more Māori wards.

Should a valid demand for a poll be received by 21 February 2021 (effective 22 February 2021), a poll will be held by 21 May 2021 with the outcome applicable for the 2022 and 2025 triennial elections.

Should a valid demand for a poll be received after 21 February 2021 (effective 22 February 2021), a poll will be held after 21 May 2021, with the outcome applicable for the 2025 and 2028 triennial elections.

A valid demand must be:
• made in writing (hard copy);
• signed by at least 5 percent of eligible electors of the Gisborne District Council. This equates to 1,625 elector signatures;
• delivered to Gisborne District Council, 15 Fitzherbert Street, Gisborne by 5pm, Monday 22 February 2021 (for the outcome of the poll to apply to the 2022 and 2025 triennial elections of the Gisborne District Council).

For more information see the full notice

About Māori wards

In 2002 the government amended the Local Electoral Act, giving councils the ability to divide their district/region into one or more Māori wards based on the Māori and General electoral populations of the district. 

Similar to the Māori Parliamentary seats, Māori wards establish areas where only those on the Māori electoral roll vote for the candidates. They sit beside the General ward(s), which also cover the whole districtElectors on the General electoral roll only vote for candidates from the General ward(s). All electors from all wards vote for the Mayor. 

Candidates in Māori wards do not have to be of Māori descent. The law only requires that a person is eligible to stand for election and that they are nominated by two electors on the Māori electoral roll within the respective area that they are standing for. 

Māori wards may be established through one of the following processes:  

•  A council may resolve to establish Māori wards. If so, a poll on the issue must be held if 5 percent of the electors of the district request it via a petition (poll demand). 
•  A council may decide to hold a poll on whether there should be Māori wards. 
•  A poll on whether there should be Māori wards or constituencies must be held if requested by a petition signed by at least 5 percent of the electors of the city, district or region. 

•  The result of poll is binding on the council for at least 2 elections. 

The Local Government Act 2002 recognises the Crown’s responsibility to take appropriate account of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and to maintain and improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to local government decision-making processes. This is reinforced by a Human Rights Commission recommendation that the Māori voice be heard and represented in local government. 

Nearly 50% of the population in Tairāwhiti identify as being Māori, which is not currently reflected in the composition of elected members. 

If a Māori ward or wards are to be established, the number of Māori councillors and ward boundaries must be finalised as part to a Representation Review.  

All elected members, whether elected from General or Māori ward(s), represent the entire community.