Fears that giving Maori their own seat on the Tauranga City Council could be interpreted as "separatist, racist and apartheid driven" have been dismissed as myths.
Matire Duncan, deputy chairwoman of a collective of Tauranga iwi and hapu, was speaking in support of the collective's stance to establish a Maori ward on the council.
The opportunity for Maori to put the case for a separate ward comes around every three years.
This time, the collective has come out strongly in support of better representation for Maori.
Ms Duncan's report to Thursday's meeting of the tangata whenua/city council committee anticipated negative feedback from people opposed to a Maori ward.
"The myths that the establishment of a Maori ward could be viewed as separatist, racist and apartheid driven are merely that - myths," she said.
The ward would be elected by Tauranga residents on the Maori roll and join the three existing wards representing Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, Otumoetai and Pyes Pa, and Te Papa and Welcome Bay.
She told the committee: "I am aware there is a certain amount of resistance and a lack of partnership principles among the elected members."
Ms Duncan said a Maori ward would allow tangata whenua to contribute to decision-making, have equal rights and powers as elected members, and carry out leadership functions, including advocating on behalf of Maori.
She said it was unlikely there would be a unified public view, with positive and negative feedback expected to be generated through the media.
The committee decided to steer a neutral course, opting to note the collective's stance and leave the issue to be decided by the council on November 17.
Options were spelt out by the council's legal and governance manager Kirsty Downey-McGuire.
The council could stick with the status quo of having no Maori ward, agree to introduce a ward, or initiate a poll of electors and let the public decide.
If the council opposed the ward, a poll could be initiated by a member of the public provided they secured the backing of 5 per cent of electors (4237 people) for the poll. At the conclusion of the meeting, independent chairman Huikakahu Kawe congratulated members for "all acting like ladies and gentlemen".
Most of the debate revolved around technicalities, with Councillor John Robson expressing the strongest caution about a separate ward for Maori.
He said the councillors who represented the existing three wards would not be able to represent people on the Maori roll. "That concerns me greatly."
Ms Downey-McGuire said the council must decide by November 23 on the Maori ward.
If the decision supported having the ward, that would feed into the 2016 election's representation review.