Whakatane District Council elected members have voted in favour of a resolution that would enable the establishment of Maori wards.
The elected members heard submissions from the public before deliberating and voting six to five in favour of supporting the introduction of one or more Maori wards.
Whakatane District Mayor Tony Bonne says this result is testament to the importance of fostering strong and meaningful relationships with Maori across the district and ensuring Te Ao Maori is recognised and supported at the council table.
“I have had the opportunity and privilege in my role as mayor to engage with Maori on a number of partnerships, and I see this as a continuation of the work we have been doing to foster growth and positive relationships within our rohe so we can move forward together.”
Whakatane District Council initiated the discussion around Maori wards at its June 29 meeting, where it was required to determine the electoral process for the next triennial elections. It resolved to pursue further investigations which involved seeking feedback from iwi, and more broadly from the public via social media and traditional channels and reported back to council.
By November 23, the council will give public notice of the right of electors to demand a poll on the matter.
The Local Electoral Act 2001 allows a poll of five per cent of the electors enrolled at the previous triennial election to demand a binding poll to be held on a proposal whether or not to introduce Maori wards for the next two triennial elections.