A full public gallery witnessed Hastings District Council vote to establish Māori wards by 2022 on Tuesday.
In March, the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act 2021 established a transition period where local authorities could resolve to establish Māori constituencies by the 2022 elections with a deadline of May 21, 2021.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she felt "honoured and proud" to move the recommendations to include Māori wards at the next election.
Deputy mayor Tania Kerr, who seconded the movement, said it was one of the most, "if not the most", significant decision in her time in local government.
"I see no negative side to this decision. I want to have an inclusive Heretaunga and Aotearoa."
Councillor Henare O'Keefe said he was "inclined to say praise the Lord, inclined to say amen and hallelujah".
Ngāti Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said he was very proud to be living in Heretaunga on this day.
"I don't say that very often … this is great for iwi, hapū and all those who have passed on."
Thirteen of the councillors voted to have Māori wards and by the 2022 election and spoke in favour of the decision, one councillor voted against and one abstained from the vote.
Councillor Kevin Watkins said his issue was "not about the merit of Māori wards but strictly relates to process" and on the matter of process he could not support the recommendation.
He believed the deadline and "pressure" put onto local authorities by the Government had restricted the consultation process.
"It is in the best interest of the Hastings District to get the consultation process as broad and as far as possible without the time constraints."
Councillor Simon Nixon, who abstained from the vote, said he was not opposed to Māori wards but was concerned about the proposal, felt there was "shortcomings" in the process caused by the Government and said it "seems unreasonably rushed and [I] think it will have some unintended consequences".
Submissions were overwhelmingly in favour with 1575 of the 2089 submissions in favour of the wards, 506 against and eight that were left blank.
Key themes of those in support included that it was the right thing to do, will result in better outcomes and that there needed to be representatives with the same beliefs, values and world view.
Key themes expressed that were not in support were that it was unnecessary and undemocratic.
As at May 12, 68 per cent of respondents were Māori, 29 per cent were non-Māori and 3 per cent did not say.
Of the Māori respondents 97 per cent said they supported Māori wards and 3 per cent were against.
Of the non-Māori respondents, 69 per cent opposed Māori wards and 31 per cent were in favour.
Eighty-one per cent of respondents were Hastings District ratepayers or residents.
If the number of councillors remains the same as currently then three councillors would be elected from Māori wards.