The Hastings District Council-Maori joint committee will consider the issue of whether or not to create Maori wards at a meeting this week.

Councils are required by legislation to review their representation arrangements, including whether to create Maori wards, every six years.

For the Hastings District Council this review was due again this year and if it decided to install a Maori ward or wards for the 2019 local government election, this decision would have to be in place by November this year.

In a report to the committee, chief executive office executive adviser/manager Mike Maguire said that in 2012 the committee resolved to recommend to the council that a Maori ward be created for all of the Hastings district from the 2016 elections onward.


The matter was put on the backburner, however, due to the amalgamation process, after which in November 2014 the committee again reinforced its desire for a Maori ward.

At the time the council responded that if amalgamation did not go ahead it would look at the matter again before the 2019 local body elections.

The current committee has the option to put forward to the full council a similar recommendation this week - one of three routes it could take.

The other two options were to recommend to the council that it holds a poll at a time to be determined, or that it recommend the council not introduce a Maori ward at this time.

Councillors' views were sought when the issue of Maori wards was mooted last month, and the response was varied, with some in favour of holding a referendum, and others comfortable that the current Maori representation on the council was sufficient.

There were also different opinions on the prospect of holding a referendum at the same time as a byelection for a new Hastings mayor after Lawrence Yule's departure.

At the time councillor Bayden Barber, who is deputy chairman of the committee (made up of the mayor, five councillors and six Maori appointees), suggested a simple poll could be held rather than a full referendum, because a referendum would distract from other significant issues the district faced.

If the council did propose creating a Maori ward or wards, a poll could be demanded on the matter by at least 5 per cent of the community.


Notification of a poll would have to be received by February 28 next year and the poll itself held within three months of that date.

Similarly, if the council voted against a Maori ward, the community could still hold a poll if the 5 per cent threshold was reached.

Mr Maguire said it was the officers' view that the council needed to make progress on the issue of Maori wards sooner rather than later, but because it was a political decision no recommendations had been made to the committee.

The committee meeting is being held on Wednesday this week.