Greater Wellington will establish a Māori constituency for the 2025 local government elections following a decision at council today.
The decision made today by the regional council has the unanimous support of Greater Wellington’s mana whenua partners: Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Taranaki Whānui ki te Ūpoko o te Ika, Rangitāne ō Wairarapa and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.
Greater Wellington’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi Komiti chair Hikitia Ropata, and Greater Wellington’s first elected Māori councillor says, “Today’s decision is an important step forward in honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi, ensuring the voices of mana whenua and mātāwaka will be heard, embedded, and carried forward by future councils and their decisions.
“A Māori constituency creates a permanent place for a Māori voice at the regional governance table.”
2022 population data shows the Māori electoral population made up 8.17 percent of the Wellington Region’s total electoral population, enabling a single member Māori constituency at Greater Wellington.
Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter believes forming a Māori constituency is the right decision.
“We are joining the many councils across Aotearoa who have welcomed a Māori constituency in recent years, as we continue to build strong, equitable partnerships with mana whenua,” Cr Ponter says.
“We understand our obligations under Te Tiriti go beyond establishing this constituency, and we expect the councillor who represents it will help us honour those commitments.”
Forming a Māori constituency is another way a council creates opportunities for Māori to participate in its local decision making, to achieve shared aspirations alongside mana whenua.
To Helmut Modlik, Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira chief executive, the decision “is a welcome step forward in strengthening the governance of our region and nation.
“I commend Greater Wellington for their wisdom. We look forward to building stronger communities and realising the benefits of this decision together.”
On behalf of Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, chair Denise Hapeta says, “Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki recognises the need for a greater Māori voice within council decision making. We support the establishment of a Māori Constituency. However, we remind the council that this does not replace the bilateral relationships between ourselves and Greater Wellington.”
This sentiment is echoed by Taranaki Whānui chair Kara Dentice, who says, “Introducing Māori wards is a positive step forward in including Māori views in the nation’s decision making process.”
“Yet, Taranaki Whānui insists this must not come at the expense of undermining Te Tiriti promises, and the bond between mana whenua and Greater Wellington.”
Kahungunu ki Wairarapa kaimahi taiao, Rawiri Smith, notes the positive
opportunity: “Stronger Māori representation will bring our region a wider understanding of Wellington’s region. We recognise both sides of the coin, in terms of the potential advantages and challenges of the Māori seat.”
Today’s decision will inform Greater Wellington’s representation review scheduled for 2024.