And so Māori wards are going to happen. The matter, which has had a flurry of letters to the editor, for and against, has been settled by central government.
The law allowing a council decision in favour of Māori wards to be overturned by a referendum will be removed in Parliament this week.
The change will ensure Māori wards will be part of the 2022 local body elections for the Whangārei District and Northland Regional councils.
The original amendment to the Local Government Act, instigated by Helen Clark's Labour government in 2002, was always going to create problems. Labour tried to keep both proponents and opponents of Māori wards happy.
You could say that's the art of politics, acknowledging opposing views and coming up with a compromise. And sometimes it is, but other times an issue is best served by being decisive, thus avoiding a messy situation.
Allowing a referendum to overturn a decision made by elected councillors put one democratic process against another.
And the referendums held, only served to highlight the problem that Māori wards are trying to address. The voice of a minority indigenous population comes up against the weight of numbers.
Twenty-two out of 24 councils had their decision to introduce Māori wards overturned by referendum.
It wasn't a foregone conclusion, however, that voters in Northland would follow suit. There seemed to be some momentum in the other direction.
And even if referendums had rejected Māori wards, it was possible that in five or 10 years there would be greater support for them. New Zealand is changing, and younger generations have less antagonism to Māori culture and tikanga having an increased place in our society.
By changing the law, Labour showed it had no desire for the issue to play out around the country over the next decade.
That decision was all about politics at the national level.
A substantial part of Labour's voter-base is Māori. As much as winning elections is about attracting the middle vote, you can't ignore your base, especially if they have an alternative.
The Māori Party is back in Parliament with renewed confidence. Labour has to be seen to be delivering some policy gains to Māori, or they face Māori voters looking elsewhere.
And Labour's own caucus of Māori MPs will want to exert their influence. Without NZ First as a coalition partner, the voice of Māori within Labour is strengthened. Keeping Winston happy is no longer necessary. Which means the Labour Party hierarchy no longer has an excuse for avoiding pro-Māori policies that might alienate some voters.
While Labour didn't go into the election saying they would get rid of referendums on Māori wards, they are acting on brand.
In all this what's most fascinating is the position taken by National. Despite a seemingly divisive issue, there's been nothing.
National's voting against the legislation put up by Labour, because they say they're opposed to the changes being rushed through under urgency rather than going through the select committee process.
Judith Collins isn't doing a Don Brash on this one.
And quietly, National has decided to in future contest the Māori seats in Parliament. That's a major reversal of position.
This decision, along with silence on Māori wards, is an indication that National won't be going down the Trumpist wormhole and trying to win votes by fuelling racial antagonism.
They may have decided, correctly I think, that getting back in a position to govern won't be achieved on that particular lost highway.
An essential political skill is recognising which direction the waka is being paddled.
Māori culture, tikanga, ways of thinking about the world, are being cemented in Aotearoa New Zealand's public life.
Best to get on board with that.
• Northern Advocate columnist Vaughan Gunson writes about life and politics