The message is clear: We're ready to see a Māori mayor.
The race for the Matamata-Piako mayoralty is taking shape, with Waikato iwi Ngāti Hinerangi supporting the idea of increased diversity around the council table.
"We should all strive to establish decision-making tables that better and more accurately reflect the community it represents. More facets of our community need to be heard and included. Diversity in culture, experience and perspective will benefit us all," Ngāti Hinerangi spokesperson Hinerangi Vaimoso said.
Last month current mayor Ash Tanner announced his decision to not seek re-election this year. Since then, councillor Adrienne Wilcock has put her hat in the ring for the top job.
Vaimoso said the mana whenua were ready to see a Māori holding positions like mayor.
"That would be a win," she said.
"Simply because of what it takes to get there, but we would be supportive of anyone willing to be an ally to iwi in the local government space, to be brave and push boundaries for the betterment of our Māori community here in the Matamata Piako District."
The conversation around diversity in council comes as Matamata-Piako District Council progresses to a finalised structure of representation, including a Māori ward seat.
This consists of four Matamata ward councillors, four Morrinsville ward councillors, three for the Te Aroha ward and one Māori ward councillor, in addition to the mayor.
Last month Mayor Tanner said the structure was based on population, but admitted that he wasn't a fan of picking representatives by race. Rather he saw everyone as being equal.
"It's that representation thing again ... it's based on how many people are in your ward and how many representatives you've got.
"Our council, we're implementing the Māori ward seat for this year's local body election, and then you have to review how many people are representing and sitting on council."
Mana whenua said they would support Māori who intended stepping into the political sphere.
"We would also be very supportive of any Māori looking to enter the realm of politics, whether it be at a local or central level, because we believe more mana whenua voice at decision-making tables of every level will have a positive impact," Vaimoso said.
"As an iwi entity, our aspirations always involve exploring ways to empower our people to be heard, counted and be active participants within our community, so voting is encouraged. However, what is just as empowering is for our people to be fully equipped with information on the benefits of representation, the election process itself and the candidates, in order to make their own informed decision about voting."
Local government elections will take place on October 8 with mayoralty nominations opening on July 15.
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