April 29, 2022
Treaty clash behind Rotorua voting hiccup
Labour list MP Tamati Coffey says there’s still room to salvage a bill creating a unique voting system for Rotorua Lakes Council.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said yesterday the council will ask the Māori Affairs Select Committee to pause work on the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill so it can work with parliamentary and government advisors to get it right.
This follows a finding from the Attorney-General that the proposed representation structure is in breach of the Bill of Rights Act.
Mr Coffey says the make up of the council needs to reflect the partnership it has formed with Te Arawa.
“We’ve opened a bit of a can of worms because there have been some inconsistencies found in the Local Electoral Act. The council has said ‘we want you to look at this. We don’t believe this is fair when it comes to our treaty partnership that we want to uphold here in Rotorua.’ So you’ve got to keep asking questions. Is it just the Bill of Rights or do we need to have a bit of a treaty conversation on what this looks like as well?” he says.
The hold up means at the October local body election, Rotorua voters will be voting for three members in the Māori ward, six members in a general ward covering the Rotorua urban and lakes areas, and one member in a rural general ward covering the same area as the Rotorua Rural Community Board.