Five Whangārei District councillors are seeking to overturn their council's vote for Māori wards.
Cr Vince Cocurullo said the challenge sought to have Whangārei District Council's November decision for Māori representation on council rescinded.
The formal challenge will come from Cocurullo, Shelley Deeming, Phil Halse, Greg Martin and Simon Reid at next Thursday's full council meeting.
But Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said in the face of the challenge, that the need for the district to have Māori seats was just as valid today, five months on from the council decision in their favour – if not more so.
Mai put the motion for Māori wards at the council's November meeting.
"Our Māori hapū and community have very clearly told us that at [yesterday's] Te Kārearea meeting," Mai said.
Te Kārearea Strategic Partnership Forum Standing Committee is WDC's formal Māori standing committee. More than an hour's debate resulted from the challenge's news at yesterday's meeting.
After the meeting Len Bristowe, Te Kārearea Strategic Partnership Forum Standing Committee co-chair, said: "[Māori representation] is a good thing for the council and Whangārei district.
"What is the big issue. Why shouldn't there be Māori wards."
The challenging quintet will formally table a notice of motion that all councillors will then need to vote on.
On November 3, WDC's 8-6 vote for Māori wards saw Cocurullo, Deeming, Halse, Martin, Reid and Jayne Golightly vote against their introduction.
Mai, Deputy Mayor Greg Innes and Gavin Benney, Nick Connop, Ken Couper, Tricia Cutforth, Anna Murphy and Carol Peters voted in favour.
Cocurullo said thousands of Whangārei electors had already demanded a poll against WDC's November decision. Such polls have typically overturned council pro-Māori wards decisions, as happened with eight of New Zealand's last nine polls.
Cocurullo said it was important the community's voice was heard, rather than the council itself making the decision.
Democracy Northland gathered more than 3080 signatures from WDC's 73,563 electors, demanding the poll. Leader John Bain will formally present the petition to next week's council meeting – even though it's no longer valid under the just-passed March 1 Local Electoral (Māori seats and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Act 2021.
"We can't just dismiss the community, that's not open democracy," Halse, who is also WDC's Te Kārearea Strategic Partnership Forum Standing Committee's councillor co-chair, said.
The challenge comes on the cusp of what Mai said was WDC's biggest-ever representation review discussion. The review has come as a result of the council voting to bring in Māori wards.
It is required, to look into representation considerations such as the total number of WDC councillors, how they are elected, how many of those are from general and Māori wards, the number of wards, ward boundaries, whether councillors are elected at large/in their wards or a mixture of these, whether to still have wards and whether or not to introduce community boards.
Mai said one option was to reduce the number of councillors to eight and bring in community boards.