Ruapehu District Council has called time on a Māori council set up 12 years ago to encourage greater participation in local government decision-making.
The Ruapehu District Māori Council, created by a Ruapehu District Council resolution in 2009, 'no longer fits' and will be replaced by Māori wards.
Ruapehu mayor Don Cameron says it was evident two years ago that the Māori Council had had its day.
He says the advisory collective of nine delegates from central North Island iwi – three from Tūwharetoa, three from Maniapoto and three from iwi of the southern Ruapehu district - flagged up itself the need for a different approach to move the Māori voice forward.
A review was carried out to find the best option, and Ruapehu District Council resolved last year to introduce Māori wards at next year's local body elections.
Ruapehu district councillor Viv Hoeta said replacing the Māori council with Māori wards was a sign of progress for Māori representation in the district.
"We had a Māori Council. It fit for the time when it came in – it doesn't fit for us now because we've progressed and our council is progressing as well.
"So we decided as a council, and it was unanimously voted in, that we would have Māori wards. Māori wards are about Māori representation at the table."
A representation review is under way to decide the number of Māori wards to be introduced by the territorial authority. The council has sought public views on its options throughout the month of April at public meetings and via a feedback form.
Three Māori seats are likely, but the public consultation will inform decisions around whether the new Māori seats will be additional to existing General seats or replace them. The council is also considering the options of fewer or more Māori seats.
Hoeta said the Māori wards would not represent individual iwi but would stand for Māori in the district as a whole.
"It is not about iwi, it is not about hapū: it is about having that Māori voice to give that Māori perspective on kaupapa that affect Māori in our district.
"And it's about having that true partnership, which is what our council is looking for - and having a true reflection of that partnership at the decision-making table," Hoeta said.
"I know that there are a lot of community members who are uneasy and feel that we're all one people and should only have General wards. However, only a Māori can speak for a Māori, and only a Māori can live in a Māori world."
Only those on the Māori electoral roll vote for Māori ward candidates, but there is no requirement to be Māori to stand for a Māori seat.