A Notice of Motion has been filed to establish a Māori Ward at the next Wellington City Council election.
This is after the Government announced it will abolish a law that allows local referendums to veto decisions by councils to establish Māori wards, in time for the 2022 local body elections.
Wellington City councillor and Māori Partnerships portfolio leader Jill Day moved a Notice of Motion today to establish a Māori Ward in the capital with the support of the mayor.
The document has been provided to the council's chief executive.
Day said she was thrilled to have the support of Mayor Andy Foster and seven other councillors for the move.
"Wellingtonians have been very supportive of honouring Te Tiriti and a Māori Ward is another step in addressing the wrongs of the past and making good decisions for Wellington's future."
Foster said he was "quite comfortable" with the idea of a Māori Ward.
"If there's a wish for people to have a Māori Ward, and that's clearly the way the Government's moving and I think it's clearly the way that many parts of the country are moving, I have no problem giving people that opportunity."
Some councillors who haven't signed the document reported not having had the chance to review it during a busy day of meetings.
Councillor Sean Rush added that until the law was changed it would "seem outside the council's power" to approve such a motion. He has asked for officer advice.
Deputy Mayor Sarah Free said she didn't sign because she questioned whether a Notice of Motion was the right approach, rather than it being in objection to the idea of a Māori Ward.
"There are other ways to get things on the agenda", she said.
The council is currently investigating giving mana whenua voting rights and remuneration on council committees.
Day said this work would continue alongside the establishment of a Māori Ward in Wellington.
She acknowledged Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta for the "principled stand she has taken in changing this racist law".
Day herself was the first Māori woman elected to Wellington City Council in 2016.
Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, who seconded the Notice of Motion, said a ward will mean more Māori voices are guaranteed at the council table.
"A Māori Ward will help the council make better decisions about the long-term future of Wellington", she said.
Day has previously described the current legal process for a Māori Ward as being too difficult.
Since 2002, when the law was changed allowing councils to establish Māori wards, 24 councils have attempted to establish them but only two had been successful – Waikato Regional Council and Wairoa District Council. (The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has Maori wards set up under special legislation).
Five per cent of electors can petition for a binding referendum on whether or not the council's decision stands.
Mahuta said the current system had a different set of rules for establishing Māori and general wards "and that uneven playing field needs to change".
"The process of establishing a ward should be the same for both Māori and general wards. These are decisions for democratically elected councils, who are accountable to the public every three years.
"Polls have proven to be an almost insurmountable barrier to councils trying to improve the democratic representation of Māori interests. This process is fundamentally unfair to Māori."
Elected Wellington City Council members who signed the Notice of Motion:
Mayor Andy Foster