Local Māori wards decision highlights need for independent Māori voice

MEDIA STATEMENT
Māori Party – Te Tai Hauāuru

The Government’s failure to act on ending the discriminatory local and regional government Māori wards provision is unacceptable and highlights the need for independent Māori voices in Parliament, Māori Party candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said today.

Currently, the establishment of Māori wards in local government can be put to a referendum, whereas general wards can’t be – they are decided by councils alone. Last year five councils had proposals for Māori wards put to referendums and voted down.

“In 2019 its completely unacceptable that any government would choose to not act on removing racist provisions in law,” said Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Ms Ngarewa-Packer.

“There is broad support in local government to tackle what the United Nations have called “persistently low” levels of Māori representation – Local Government New Zealand has called the provision ‘anomalous’ and ‘discriminatory’.

“As a former Deputy Mayor of South Taranaki District Council, I understand how important it is to have Māori at the council table but also how difficult is to get elected.

“Parliament has had many opportunities to act but has failed to do so. They voted down Marama Davidson’s bill last term, ignored Andrew Judd’s petition, and have now said they will not do anything this term.

“This is a simple change to ensure the process for establishing Māori and general wards is the same. To not act is turning a blind eye to racism.

“The failure of the Government to remove this provision from law proves why we need independent kaupapa Māori voices in Parliament.

“In her comments, Nanaia Mahuta made it clear that Labour are unwilling to even seek NZ First’s support for changing the law, which suggests that Labour’s Māori MPs are failing to challenge their colleagues on kaupapa Māori.

“We need representatives who will fight for kaupapa Māori solutions, every moment of every day. If elected next year, that’s exactly what I will do,” said Ms Ngarewa-Packer.

ENDS

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