Progress results of a binding poll show electors have voted against Māori representation around the Council table in the Western Bay and in Whakatane.
In November 2017, the majority of WBOP District councillors (9 for, 3 against) voted to establish one or more Māori wards as part of a six yearly representation review that legally requires Council to consider Māori representation.
Consequently, a valid independent petition from more than five per cent of Western Bay District electors who opposed the move was handed to Council in February 2018, requiring a poll.
As a result, a poll, which involved voting papers being sent to all eligible electors on both the General and Mori Parliamentary Electoral Rolls, opened on Friday April 27 and closed at midday today, Saturday 19 May.
A similar story in the Whakatane District, also resulted in a poll being initiated.
Progress results show electors do not want Māori wards in either of the two Districts.
Voter turnout in the Western Bay was around 40 per cent of eligible electors.
• 21.5 per cent of electors who voted were for Māori wards
• 78.2 per cent of electors who voted were against Māori wards
Mayor Garry Webber says he accepts the result.
“In announcing its decision in November last year Council acknowledged that not everyone would agree. We were also clear that due process, which included the call for a poll, would be followed and the result of that process respected.
“Today’s result, which is binding for the 2019 and 2022 elections, is clear so it’s time for Council to move on with the rest of the representation review.”
In the Whakatane District a total of 5856 electors, 56.39 per cent, have voted against Maori wards, with 4504, 43.37 percent, in favour.
"Votes placed in ballot boxes at the Whakatane District Council Civic Centre this morning, and at the Murupara Service Centre before 4.30pm yesterday will be included in the preliminary result, which is expected to be available later this afternoon," says council public affairs manager Ross Boreham.
"The Electoral Officer will declare the final result of the poll on Monday."
Final results for both districts will be available on Monday May 21, once all valid special votes have been counted. The official public notice of final results will be appear in papers on Wednesday 23 May.
The next phase of the representation review focuses on whether current representation arrangements (Mayor, 11 Councillors, three wards, five community boards and 20 community board members), provides for fair and effective representation, or if changes can be made to improve the District’s representation.
Council is considering feedback and will go back to the community with an initial proposal for future representation arrangements in the second half of 2018.