By Alice Angeloni, Local Democracy Reporter
Gisborne councillors have voted unanimously in favour of establishing Māori wards.
There were tears of joy, hugs and applause from the crowded public gallery after the vote, which took place at an extraordinary meeting at Gisborne District Council this morning.
Mayor Rehette Stoltz said she had been asking herself whether the current representation model was "fit for purpose".
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"I think the obvious answer is no." This was the opportunity to work with the community to address that, Stoltz said.
"Our job now is to go out and get our community on board, tell them why this is good for us ... this is our opportunity not only to address Māori representation but also to put our weight behind our rural councillors."
Deputy Mayor Josh Wharehinga ended the hour-long discussion, in which each councillor gave their piece, with a teary kōrero.
"If not us, then who, and if not now, then when," he said.
Today was the last day councillors could pass the resolution to be effective in time for the 2022 election.
The council must now give public notice of its decision and of the right for electors to demand a region-wide poll on the matter.
Only 1625 signatures are needed on a petition to require the council to go to a binding poll on Māori wards.