Māori may get two seats on Taranaki Regional Council after public feedback forced a second option into consideration.
In June councillors voted unanimously for a single Māori constituency while keeping councillor numbers at 11, meaning South Taranaki would lose a councillor to be left with two.
But at a hearing into the option on Tuesday multiple submissions called for better Māori representation.
Councillors at the hearing responded by choosing another option to be up for discussion.
This option would see 13 councillors at the table, allowing for two Māori seats and for South Taranaki to retain its current three seats – an option previously rejected by councillors in a closed workshop.
Ngāti Ruanui kaiwhakahaere Rachel Rae said the large area of the regional council meant one Māori ward could not "enable true and genuine representation for the Māori community".
"The current proposal does not ensure representation from South Taranaki for Māori."
Ngāti Ruanui instead asked for two Māori wards to "ensure that areas of community interest can be maintained" – meaning some form of northern and southern Māori wards.
Maria Hokopaura submitted that a single Māori seat would perpetuate systemic racism in local government.
"Having one representative to represent the Māori constituents within the area means that, once again, Māori votes are 'worth less' than other constituents'.
"The current proposal from TRC only reaffirms that Māori cannot have confidence or trust in these systems."
Emily Bailey's submission pointed to the special consideration given to Stratford which has a seat despite its small population and said Māori deserved similar consideration.
"This would allow for more Māori to switch over to the Māori electoral roll in the next electoral term and to align better with future Māori populations that we are seeing grow."
Federated Farmers suggested raising numbers to 12 councillors to allow for a single Māori constituency, saying it shouldn't be at the expense of rural representation
"Losing one councillor from South Taranaki will, in our view, provide insufficient representation within South Taranaki."
Both options will be back before a full council meeting on September 21 for a final decision.
The decision will then be up for appeal or objection until October 29.