Taupō councillors have voted to introduce Māori wards, like other councils around the North Island because the Local Government Law of 2002 requires councils to take into account the Treaty of Waitangi and its promises to Māori of rangatiratanga.
But that law also allowed a majority vote by the public to veto Māori wards so they've almost never actually come about - until the law change removed the veto option.
Taupō Mayor David Trewavas says the law change is a good thing, and long awaited.
"It wasn't fair," Trewavas said. "Because obviously it goes out to the whole of the general public, and the history has that those referendums have not been successful.
"It creates a lot of division in the communities as well."
Taupō District councillor Tangonui Kingi believes the time is right.
"We've seen a movement or a shift over the years towards more inclusion and reflecting the diversity of our country including tangata whenua and the role that we play," he said.
"If you don't have that voice sitting at that table, whatever table that is - DHB, regional council, district council - then you don't have perspective and it certainly is not inclusive. So, the value was all around having that voice sitting at that table."
But it hasn't been embraced by everyone. Hobson's Pledge led a campaign against Māori wards, gaining enough signatures to trigger referendums in each district except Gisborne.
Spokesman Mike Butler objects to the law change, saying Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has sabotaged the process.
He says her new bill will "override the current petitions, prohibit such referenda in future and extend to May 21 the right for all councils to set up race-based voting for next year's local elections".
In Taupō, Butler's petition gathered enough signatures to trigger a referendum to overturn the council's decision for six years. It was the change of that six-year ban that caused some councillors in favour of Māori wards to vote against them.
"Part two of the resolution was whether Māori wards should be put in place for the 2022 triennium elections, in which I voted 'no' because of the poll process, which I was afraid was going to be triggered," said councillor Anna Park.
"I have absolute, utmost respect for Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and we have them at every layer of governance, through Māori interest seats on our standing committees and representative groups."
With law change voted through under urgency, it allows councils to meet their Treaty obligations. Trewavas says it's a landmark decision.
"This is a really positive part of New Zealand that we work together in partnership with the original inhabitants of the land. We're moving on."
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