Ruapehu District councillors have voted down a move by its two Māori councillors to increase the number of proposed Māori ward seats from two to three.
The motion to increase the number of seats in the council's six-yearly representation proposal was put by councillor Elijah Pue and seconded by councillor Viv Hoeta following a clear message from two marae hui that Māori want at least three seats under the new Māori ward being introduced for next year's local body elections.
The mayor and CEO, both Māori councillors and several other councillors attended the hui at Raetihi Marae and Mōrero Marae, having already publicised a draft proposal for two Māori seats.
Pue says the council attended the marae hui to discuss Māori representation and get a steer on how many Māori seats it should have. He says both hui called strongly for three – the maximum number possible in the Ruapehu district under current legislation.
Pue says he proposed the increase to three seats based on "very clear" messages from the hui.
"I did that because I wanted to stay true to my word that council were being meaningful about our consultation, and that we weren't just going out and regardless of what they said we were going to go for two anyway.
"I wanted to show that we did actually listen. I stayed true to my own principles of holding true to my word and I proposed three, but the motion was lost, so we went with two. So the proposal is six general seats, two Māori seats and the mayor."
No councillors apart from Viv Hoeta supported the motion.
The council is now opening up the conversation to the whole community.
"Those two marae hui were pre-consultation hui for the Māori community. They were about us showing that we wanted to be meaningful with our consultation, to show that we wanted to have the consultation first and foremost," Pue said.
"But now that we're in the formal consultation period, now is the time to get submissions in, either written or come to the hearing which will be held in September. If you have a view – Māori or non-Māori – then you should be making a submission.
"If the consultation comes back and overwhelmingly says we made the wrong decision, that we got the number of Māori ward seats completely wrong, then I would hope that council reconsiders."
The initial representation proposal for the council's six-yearly representation review is now open for submissions before a final decision is made in November.