Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Iwi push for Maori seats on council

Tukoroirangi Morgan. Photo / Greg Bowker
Tukoroirangi Morgan. Photo / Greg Bowker

Waikato iwi are urging the Waikato Regional Council to introduce two Maori seats in time for the 2013 local government elections.

But the regional council has mixed views on Maori representation and a lively debate is expected at tomorrow's council meeting.

The regional council has been preparing to introduce two Maori seats since it last reviewed its voting process in 2006 and reduced the number of elected members from 14 to 12.

A decision to go ahead with Maori representation would mean councillors would have to approve a reduction in their salaries as the same amount of remuneration money would be shared between 14.

The Maniapoto Maori Trust Board, Raukawa Settlement Trust, Te Arawa River Iwi Trust and Waikato Tainui have written letters to the council supporting the move, saying it is a positive and important step forward for Maori.

Te Arawa River Iwi Trust co-chairman Roger Pikia hoped that introducing Maori seats would encourage Maori to vote and would enhance rather than replace consultation with tangata whenua.

Tainui chairman Tukoroirangi Morgan supported Maori representation provided it reflected the interests of each iwi in the region.

The constituency boundaries would be determined next year in consultation with iwi should the council adopt Maori seats.

But Waikato Regional Council chairman Peter Buckley said there were mixed views within the council.

"There will be some for it and there will be some who have concerns around it."

Mr Buckley questioned how all the iwi groups could be represented by two members and what the boundaries would be.

He was unsure whether there could be two Maori seats for the whole region or whether it would be split into geographical areas such as east and west.

Maori are 20 per cent of the population of the Waikato region, and since the council was set up in 1989 there have been no Maori representatives elected.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has three Maori seats and Mr Buckley said he had received positive feedback on the system.

The council has until November 23 to make a decision.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 29 May 2017 07:27:24 Processing Time: 475ms