Haka, tears and cheering broke out in the Tauranga City Council chamber this morning as a vote passed 6-4 to establish a Māori ward in the city.
The vote followed an intense debate that suggested the decision would swing the other way, leaving many briefly shocked when it passed - both those around the council table and the dozens of tangata whenua in the public gallery.
Mayor Tenby Powell, deputy mayor Tina Salisbury and councillors Jako Abrie, Heidi Hughes, Larry Baldock and Bill Grainger voted in favour of introducing the ward.
Councillors John Robson, Steve Morris, Andrew Hollis and Kelvin Clout voted against.
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Councillor Dawn Kiddie abstained.
The council also voted 8-3 to give voting rights to tangata whenua representatives on four council committees.
The decision is likely to be challenged via a public-initiated petition, which, if successful, would lead to a referendum, the result of which would be binding for two years.