The Northland Regional Council's Te Tai Tokerau Māori and Council Working Party (TTMAC) says the council should have three Māori seats, with newly-elected co-chairman Pita Tipene (Ngāti Hine) saying that would be a good start on a journey of incremental change.
The council voted in October to establish designated Māori seats at TTMAC's tangata whenua caucus meeting in December 3 and providing feedback in favour of three seats following staff presentations about Māori representation options.
The working party comprises the nine regional councillors and 21 iwi and hapū representatives, with group manager environmental services Jonathan Gibbard saying the feedback was now being considered by the council at a series of workshops.
The working party's iwi and hapū representatives, from across Northland, recommended that the nine-member council be increased to 11, including the three Māori seats, which was a better option than allowing for two Māori seats on a nine-member council.
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Gibbard said the first stage of the transition towards Māori constituencies would be setting up a single region-wide Māori constituency ahead of the 2022 local government elections.
"A single Māori constituency, with all Māori councillors elected from (this) region-wide constituency, is preferable at this stage over multiple Māori constituencies," he said.
"It was agreed that there is insufficient time to establish three separate Māori constituencies for the 2022 election. Discussion would likely be fraught and not arrive at an acceptable outcome, which would potentially taint the process for everyone going forward.
"The preferred option would be to use the first triennium to properly consult with tangata whenua on the feasibility of establishing separate Māori constituencies that met both the requirements of the Local Electoral Act 2001 and be meaningful/acceptable to Māori."
A staged approach would also provide enough time for tangata whenua to understand and gain experience in the council governance environment.
"This understanding can then be applied to seeing if a way can be found to create separate Māori boundaries that would have the support not only of the elected representatives, but also of the people who live in them," he added.
Meanwhile the council would continue to work on an initial review proposal that it had to adopt by August 31.