November 29, 2020
Referendum fear slows Maori seat decision
The chair of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council says the implementation of Māori seats needs to come from the top down.
Rex Graham says his council's decision to poll voters on the question at the next local government election rather than establish Māori wards now has frustrated many supporters, including himself.
He says it's clear progress now depends on central government taking the lead and changing the rule that allows council decisions on only that issue to be overturned by binding referendum.
"If we went to a poll to give women the vote 100 years ago when we did it they probably wouldn't have got the vote. Someone's got to stand up and have the courage to say 'let's do this.' I do think there is pressure on Minister Mahuta to change the rules so that councils can make this decision.," Mr Graham says.
He says the close vote by his council shows Hawke's Bay is not far behind a push by councils nationwide to improve Māori representation.
So far eight councils have voted to create Māori seats, and are now waiting to see if they will be forced to hold referendums.
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