The Government is planning to rush through Parliament under urgency retrospective legislation that will cancel nine local referendums on whether or not to establish a Maori Ward in nine local authorities. This will disenfranchise several hundred thousand New Zealanders.
They effectively argue that it is vital to have Maori wards, because without them, racist New Zealanders will not vote for Maori and they will be under-represented in local Government. Nanaia Mahuta said that “Increasing Māori representation is essential to ensuring equity in representation”. This implies that there is a huge under-representation.
This graph shows the proportion of local government elected officials who are Maori and the trend is remarkable, and very positive. Since 2004 the proportion of Maori has tripled from 4.2% to 13.5%. This shows that New Zealanders have been electing Maori to local authorities, without needing Maori wards.
This is a good thing. I’m proud of the fact that New Zealand has such high levels of representation from the indigenous population – both at central and local Government level. What was arguably a problem in 2007 has been solved through more Maori standing for Councils and more voters voting for them.
The 2018 census found 13.7% of adult New Zealanders were Maori. And the proportion elected in 2018 was 13.5%. Almost perfectly proportional.
So don’t fall for the big lie that Maori wards are needed to get adequate Maori representation on local authorities. It is simply false.