Source: Hutt City Council
Hutt City Councillors have voted to create a Māori Ward for the 2025 local government elections.
The intent of Māori Wards is to ensure Māori are represented and can participate in local government decision-making. Electors enrolled on the Māori electoral roll will vote for candidates standing for the Māori Ward.
A Māori Ward councillor would have a particular responsibility to represent people of Māori descent alongside Mana Whenua and also to act in the best interests of the city as a whole.
The decision today received full support from Hutt City Council’s Mana Whenua partners: Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika (Port Nicholson Block Settlement) Trust, Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira, Wellington Tenths Trust, Palmerston North Māori Reserve Trust and Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa ki Te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui.
Mayor Campbell Barry said the decision taken by Council today to establish a Māori Ward represented Council’s ongoing commitment to bring Māori voices into the heart of our decision-making in Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai, Lower Hutt.
“Over recent years we have been focused on deepening our relationship with our Mana Whenua partners and Māori across our city. Establishing a Māori Ward is the right next step to deepen and build on what we’ve done so far.
“I look forward to seeing a Māori Ward councillor around the council table from 2025, and to work with them and our Mana Whenua partners to advance the wellbeing of Māori and all those who live in our city.”
The Chair of Te Runanganui o Te Ati Awa ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui, Kura Moeahu, said the decision has been a long time coming.
“146 years and the beauty of it is that councils come and go, but Mana Whenua will always be here irrespective of the changes of Council and so it’s important for us to not only act in the best interests of Mana Whenua, but the best interests of everyone.”
Taranaki Whānui Trustee, Matiu Jennings said he was heartened with the vote, “There have been many times Mana Whenua have had to be pragmatic and have made many concessions because they were not at the council table.
“Today, I’m really really, happy. I look forward to the evolution of this conversation. We all hold the same responsibilities to secure the future for our people in this takiwā (region).”
Ngāti Toa Tumu Whakarae/Chief Executive, Helmut Modlik said, “Ngāti Toa supports the establishment of Māori Wards as a step in the right direction to strengthen the voice of Māori in the governance of our community. That said, we are also very clear that such wards do not represent, nor should they replace the Tiriti partnership between Mana Whenua and Kawanatanga at the local level.”
“I’m absolutely thrilled”, said the Chair of the Palmerston North Māori Reserve Trust, Liz Mellish. “Because of the work that was done to change the legislation and enable it to happen. It’s not about besting anyone, it’s a positive thing.”
“I go back to the deal that rangatira Te Whare Pouri and Honiana Te Puni made in 1839 on Pito-one beach. On his death bed, Te Wharepouri said “After I have gone, be good to my Māori people and my European people. Let the thunder of your voice reach me in the spirit land.””
The vote to establish a Māori Ward is part of Hutt City Council’s Representation Review, which will ensure communities in Lower Hutt are fairly and effectively represented at Council.
This work is being led by an Independent Panel chaired by Paul Swain.
Engagement with Mana Whenua and the wider community included hui at Waiwhetu Marae, Hikoikoi and Naenae, as well as discussion at Council’s regular Mana Whenua hui, and via existing social media channels, an online survey and displays at Council facilities such as libraries.