Maori Seats in Waikato

Nikki Preston in the Herald reports:

Waikato iwi are urging the Waikato Regional Council to introduce two Maori seats in time for the 2013 local government elections.

But the regional council has mixed views on Maori representation and a lively debate is expected at tomorrow’s council meeting.

I’m not a fan of race based seats. The parliamentary seats are a historical reality, but that is no reason to expand them into local government. While well intentioned, they can only end up with greater division.

My preference would be to consider giving Iwi which fall within a region’s boundaries, certain rights. I’ll detail what they may be some other day.

Maori are 20 per cent of the population of the Waikato region, and since the council was set up in 1989 there have been no Maori representatives elected.

I can understand why that leads some to say the seats are needed, but one vital stat is missing. How many Maori candidates have there been? Can anyone answer that question?

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