In a unanimous vote today, TCDC voted that a Māori ward or wards be established in Thames-Coromandel District in time for the 2025 local elections.
Under the Local Electoral Act, this decision now triggers a representation review that will consider the detail of the wards, such as how many and their names and boundaries, and how many councillors in total we will have. This review process is heavily prescribed under the Act and will involve considerable public consultation. However, the review process does not revisit the decision to have Māori wards.
The representation review must be concluded by 31 July 2024.
Today’s decision means our district will have a Māori ward or wards for at least the 2025 and 2028 local elections.
The vote was held in front of a Council Chamber packed with community members, iwi and Māori leaders from across the district. At least a dozen people stood before our Council and spoke in support of establishing Māori wards. The meeting was recorded and you can listen to their comments and the discussion of our Mayor Len Salt and Councillors before voting. That recording is available on our website at tcdc.govt.nz/meetings
Before the vote, Mayor Len Salt said our Council did not decide who would be on the Council to represent a Māori ward or wards.
“That is a decision for the voters. Our job is simply to decide the framework and to provide advice on the governance and Electoral Act requirements if required. We do have very clear legal obligations set out in the Local Government Act to establish and provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to the decision-making process of the local authority,” says Mayor Len.
“I want to address the comment that a number of speakers have said: ‘Thank you for allowing us to be here today’. It’s not for us to allow you to be here, it is your right to be here. That is our starting point, we’re not allowing you, it’s your right to be here,” says Mayor Len.