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Unanimous vote for Māori Wards

23 Nov 2020

Unanimous vote for Māori Wards

Public applause and cheers broke out in Council chambers this morning as Councillors voted unanimously to establish one or more Māori Wards for the Gisborne District for the 2022 and 2025 elections.

The majority of councillors spoke in favour of the proposal at the extraordinary meeting, at which Deputy Mayor Josh Wharehinga made an poignant statement, saying that it was like his “dream come true”

He admitted that he thought he would never see Māori Wards established.

“Hand on heart I did not think that I would see this day until my girls got older, in terms of representation,” he said.  

Of all the councillors, he spoke last with his right of reply, and finished with:

“If not us, then who? If not now, then when? We need to pass this resolution.”

The proposal passed today directs the chief executive of Council to undertake the required statutory process to establish one or more Māori Wards, including notification of the public’s right to demand a poll.

It also directs Council to undertake a representation review no earlier than 1 March 2021 and no later than 31 August 2021, followed by public consultation and a subsequent appeals process.

That will give the community the opportunity to examine the process closely and give their feedback.

Councillors acknowledged the quality of submissions received from the consultation process and particularly the quantity from iwi. They also talked at length about what would be needed to ensure the right representation in the future review.

Council thanked  the public for their submissions.