Hamilton City Council-appointed Māori representatives have been given a bigger workload by the new council, a boost in their budget and will have access to confidential reports, with permission of the chief executive.
The five Māngai Māori (Voice of Māori) representatives will now sit on all eight of the subcommittees and an advisory group created by changes to the governance structure of the 2019/22 council after Paula Southgate won the mayoralty last year.
Mayor Paula Southgate says Māngai Māori are important advocates for tangata whenua and their involvement allows the council to make more durable decisions for the city.
The Māngai Māori representatives and are chosen by iwi (Waikato-Tainui) and maataa waka (Māori not of Waikato-Tainui descent) organisations. They have full speaking and voting rights on all subcommittees but do not sit or vote at meetings of the full council.
The changes, approved by the council this week, follow a review process which included feedback from current and past elected members.
The new council also unanimously agreed to allow the Māngai Māori the chance to be a part of public excluded sections of the committee meetings, and read public excluded reports, if invited by the chief executive.
The annual budget to fund all the Māngai Māori was increased by $34,400 to $102,400 to reflect the extra hours now required.
The council also confirmed that professional development for Māngai Māori representatives would be provided.
Mrs Southgate said having council unanimously reaffirm the Māngai Māori partnership indicates the value it has already added to the decision-making process.
"By 2038, a third of people living in our city will be Māori," Mrs Southgate said.
"Frankly, how well we do as a city hinges on a strong and collaborative relationship with Māori."
"The Māngai Māori representatives are highly skilled people in their own right with significant credentials and mana. They are important advocates for tangata whenua and their involvement on council allows us make more durable decisions for the city."
In 2018, Hamilton City Council approved the appointment of Māori representatives for the then four committees, where one sat on the growth and infrastructure committee, two on the community and services committee, one on finance committee, and one on the regulatory hearings committee.
All five Māngai Māori appointees are members of the Hearings and Engagement Committee, for items relevant to their portfolio.
"Hamilton was courageous in pioneering an innovative model of Māori representation that has wide support," said Mrs Southgate.
"What the Māngai Māori bring to council in terms of their connections, their skills, their experience and their people is incredibly useful."
The Māngai Māori initiative was a finalist in the Cultural Wellbeing category of the 2019 Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Excellence Awards.
Waikato District Council agreed last year to introduce Māngai Māori to three of its committees. Waipa District Council also announced last year two iwi representatives will sit on council's decision making committees this year.