The Herald reports:
The Maori Party is calling for a “long overdue” law change to establish Maori wards on every district council in New Zealand.
Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell will present a petition to Parliament at the urging of New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd, who championed the creation of a Maori ward in his city – a move blocked by a public vote last year.
Under existing legislation, councils can choose to establish Maori wards. However, if 5 per cent of voters sign a petition opposed to such a move, the decision then goes to a binding referendum.
Maori representation on local government has been a heated issue at times, with parties divided at the last general election.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said Maori wards were separatist – a stance backed by the Act and Conservative parties – while National and Labour were not opposed to councils establishing Maori wards if they wished.
I’m with Winston on this one. I think it is appropriate local authorities recognise local Iwi have a particular status with regards to certain natural resources in their area. But I don’t think having separate wards and councillors on the basis of one’s ancestry is a good thing.