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The meeting – a positive step

 |  Catherine Delahunty     | 
It is generally thought to be a good idea to attend a public event if you want to describe what it was like. The Trevor Ammundsen description of the Māori Wards vote at the TCDC meeting was so different from being there. The meeting was an experience of collaboration and respect between the Council and the tangata whenua and followed the legal rules regarding the establishment of Māori wards for Māori roll voters.

There is no requirement under current law for a referendum of the general population represented by general wards to vote on Māori wards. At the moment, it’s a Councillor vote and logically our Council had approached hapū and iwi for their views.  There were a lot of people at the meeting including Pākehā from a range of community groups. The atmosphere was one of respect and warmth and the Mayor made space for all who wished to speak to the proposal. The courtesy and positivity of tangata whenua speakers was inspiring. All Councillors chose to speak and they all spoke with clarity that this was an opportunity they wished Council to take.

In my speech I pointed out that without Māori wards and with a number of Maōri candidates over many years, only one who identified themselves strongly with their hapū and iwi had ever been elected in the entire history of the TCDC. Hence the need for a Māori ward opportunity.

The new Government may drag the law back to undermining Māori decision making but I will never forget the positive step that our Council was willing to take.

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