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Despite a successful petition, Tauranga may be denied vote on its Māori ward for years

Summarised by Centrist 

The new National-led government will soon require councils to poll voters about the future of every Māori ward, or disestablish them outright. 

But Tauranga may be denied that chance until 2030. 

This is despite a popular petition with over 6,000 signatures in 2021 – well over the threshold needed to trigger a referendum– signalling residents’ desire for a chance to weigh in on the ward’s establishment.

The Tauranga City Council Māori ward coming into being may be due to a unique timing loophole: the City’s election in July 2024 will feature the ward, but polls on the ward, as directed by National, are for 2025.

Māori wards, by law, are to be in effect for six years. This means Tauranga’s petitioners may not have a chance to hold their referendum on the ward’s future until at least  2030.

Labour did not campaign on Māori wards, advocating instead for local democracy to be instrumental in major decision-making. 

Yet, once in power, Labour established the wards nationwide. In 2021, Nanaia Mahuta – who was at the time Local Government Minister – introduced legislation, under urgency, abolishing the right to petition and vote on the wards. 

According to Butler, Mahuta’s line was that votes on Māori wards were racist.

Read more over at BreakingViewsNZ

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