WBOP residents to vote on Maori wards

A poll will be held on May 19 on whether to introduce Maori wards to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council. File photo..

The Western Bay of Plenty District Council will hold a binding poll to see whether Maori wards should be introduced for the next two triennial elections in 2019 and in 2022.

The poll came about thanks to the efforts of some councillors and local residents, who petitioned for a public referendum after council initially voted 9-3 in favour of creating the racially-segregated wards.

The petition containing signatures from more than five per cent of electors was delivered on February 14 to council chambers at Barkes Corner, and confirmed as valid on Tuesday.

The council still has the opportunity to establish a Maori ward/wards as an outcome of this process, if a majority of electors vote in favour of the wards.

“Regardless of what the result is, it will be binding for two triennial elections (2019 and 2022),” says electoral officer Dale Ofsoske.

Councillor Margaret Murray-Benge, who voted against the proposal in November, is pleased with the outcome.

“We’re already divided into three geographic wards, and people can vote and have four councillors from each,” she says. “If Maori have a separate ward they can only vote for one person. What’s really stupid is I could stand in a Maori ward if I wanted to.”

She says throughout the process of gathering signatures for the petition, it became clear there was a ‘rumbling’ in the community.

“People think things have gone too far. We are all New Zealanders here.”

Fellow councillor Mike Lally says he received thanks from one person this morning for helping to start the petition process.

“We still have signatures coming in,” says Mike. “It is clear people do not want separatism – they’ve had enough of race-based laws.”

Voting documents will be posted to electors from April 27, from which time special voting and early processing will occur. The polling day will be held on Saturday May 19 and will be conducted under the provisions of the Local Electoral Act 2001 by the council’s electoral officer.

The results are expected to be declared officially on May 21, with a public notice of the results published on May 23.



Posted on 22-02-2018 08:55 | By R. Bell

I stand up to be counted every time I comment.Unlike you I sign my name to all. I Do not put forward a Maori point of view, I strongly oppose your point of view. I strongly oppose discrimination against our treaty partner, and support recent efforts to remove the outrageous disparity shown in your belief that Maori can be elected under the current electoral system. It is a disgrace that councilors outvoted can engage with Hobsons Wedge to overthrow a democratically voted majority on council. You should all be ashamed. Robin Bell.


Posted on 21-02-2018 18:55 | By Maryfaith

.... on holding a ’BINDING’ referendum - something Tauranga City Council are not brave enough to do!

Well Robin Bell

Posted on 21-02-2018 17:46 | By CC8

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED... put your name in the hat, lets see if you have the courage of your convictions and the wherewithal to help govern.... You always think you have the answers , and you always want to put forward a "Maori point of view ".... get in there and prove that other Maori and other voters are with you on your ideas...stand for the next election .

All New Zealanders, yes

Posted on 21-02-2018 15:41 | By R. Bell

Mrs Murray-Benge, but not all represented on Council. If Maori needs are not different, then why are you required by law to consult with them? Even though you control the level of "consultation" . You know full well, you are in breech of the treaty, yet again. Forced political assimilation will never bring you the comfort you crave, just the opposite actually. Bad leadership !!!! Robin Bell.

Well done to organisers

Posted on 21-02-2018 15:35 | By sobeit

A big effort by those few councillors still interested in democracy. This poll will be a resounding smack in the face for Mayor Weber and his dictatorial synchophants. And the staff driving them. The result will be no separate maori ward. Western Bay Council has had its day as a fiefdom. Highest rates and lowest value. A public disgrace

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