Taranaki Regional Council has voted to create a Māori constituency for the 2022 elections – a decision hailed as an important step forward for the Council and the right outcome for the region.
The decision follows public consultation on the issue, which attracted 383 submissions. Of those, 55% were in favour of creating a Māori constituency, while 45% were against it.
At today’s council meeting, 22 submitters presented their views. Councillors then debated the issue before voting in favour of creating a Māori constituency for next year’s election.
A representation review will be held in the coming months to decide the number of general and Māori constituencies, their borders and how many councillors will represent each. The public will have an opportunity to have their say during that process.
Council chairman David McLeod had asked his fellow councillors to be true to themselves, reminding them courageous leadership was not always popular.
“I truly believe that if we had said no today, that would not be status quo but would be a step backwards.
“This is about what is right for our region moving forward and how we can guarantee Māori at the decision-making table, with full voting rights. We have a huge few years ahead of us as a Council and to be successful we have to effectively engage with Māori.
“While the Māori constituency system may not be perfect, all eight iwi in Taranaki told us this was a step in the journey they want to take.”
He thanked everyone who took the time to make a submission, both in writing and in person.
“There was a great array of submissions, from each end of the spectrum. You brought views all of us learnt from.
“While not everyone will agree with the outcome, we believe the majority of our community supports a move to better, more meaningful Māori representation on the Council. And put simply, it is the right thing to do.”