Kāpiti Coast District Council is seeking the community’s views on whether to establish a Māori ward ahead of the 2025 local elections. Feedback closes at 5pm Friday 13 October.
Kāpiti’s two neighbouring Councils, Porirua and Horowhenua, both have Maori Wards (Horowhenua has two), as do Wellington City and Masterton Council.
At the 2022 local elections, six of the eleven regional councils (54.5%) have Māori constituencies and 29 of the 67 territorial authorities (43.3%) have Māori wards.
Kāpiti Mayor Janet Holborow says in 2020 Council, guided by mana whenua, resolved not to establish a Māori ward, but committed to reconsider the question this triennium.
Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti’ is a current partnership with three local iwi and Council and was established in 1994.
“It’s important that we hear from mana whenua and the wider community ahead of making a decision on whether to make this change to our representation arrangements,” says mayor Holborow.
If councillors want to have a Māori ward in the 2025 local election, they must make a resolution by 23 November 2023. A decision to proceed would trigger a representation review next year. A representation review would look into all aspects of Kāpiti’s electoral arrangements, not just the Māori ward. This would involve formal consultation with the community next year.
The Local Electoral Act 2001 sets out a population-based formula that would currently allow for one Māori ward in Kāpiti.
Establishing a Māori ward has few direct or ongoing costs, Mayor Holborow says.
By law, a representation review must be held every six years. If Council decides to go ahead with establishing a Māori ward, it will just bring forward the next representation review which was scheduled for 2027 rather than incurring additional costs, she says.
Under the Local Electoral Act 2001, anyone (Māori or non-Māori) may stand for a Māori ward but only those on the Māori electoral roll may nominate or vote for the candidate.
“The establishment of a Māori ward would be particularly relevant for those who are on or planning to join the Māori electoral roll. If we establish a Māori ward, those on the Māori roll would only be able to vote for Māori ward candidates rather than candidates standing for general wards. But they can still vote for district-wide councillors, the mayor, their local community board members, and regional councillors.”
Against the growing trend towards establishing the new wards is National Party leader Christopher Luxon who says Māori wards would be repealed under a National government. “That’s been our view and our position”. The ACT Party says they will repeal Maori Wards altogether.
Have your say online by 5pm on Friday 13 October at haveyoursay.kapiticoast.govt.nz/MaoriWard