• Māori wards to be introduced in Central Hawke’s Bay from 2025

Māori wards to be introduced in Central Hawke’s Bay from 2025

The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council has today voted in favour of introducing Māori wards for the 2025 and 2028 elections.

At its Council meeting, councillors voted in favour of establishing Māori wards and also invited hapū to select up to two representatives for Māori representation in an advisory role.

During the meeting, mana whenua representatives from right across Central Hawke’s Bay presented submissions all in favour of better democratic representation and a voice at the decision-making table for the 25 percent of people who identify as Māori in Tamatea – Central Hawke’s Bay.

In passing the resolution Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker said: “This is a moment in time for us to come together to unite on what ‘together we thrive’ means - E ora ngātahi ana. Woven together, we have an opportunity to shape this in a new way for the future.”

“It is absolutely right for those on the Māori roll to be able to exercise their vote to ensure an unapologetic Te ao Māori voice can sit at this table. I also think it is absolutely right to allow the appointment process for our mana whenua to be very clear in their mandated voice to sit here, work with us and bring their view.”

“I am incredibly proud to be in the room today. We do the big stuff and the hard stuff because it changes lives. It is the right thing to do for the future. That is why we come to do this job.”

Between 29 September and 27 October feedback was sought from the community via a survey, media, social media, the council website and community drop-in sessions held in Waipukurau, Pōrangahau and Takapau.

This followed engagement with mana whenua from August involving kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) meetings, conversations and written correspondence with marae, Tamatea Pokai Whenua (Heretaunga Tamatea Settlement Trust) Trustees, and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated leadership. A unanimous letter of support for Māori wards was received by Council at its 21 September 2023 meeting from Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea, which represents the nine marae in Central Hawke’s Bay. 

The next step is a formal representation review, which Council’s must conduct by law every six years. This review will determine the total number of councillors, the number and make up of wards and the ward boundaries and names. This is a publicly notified process, which will start next year.

Amongst those speaking in support of wards was Bayden Barber, Executive Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and Chair of Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea Jenny Nelson-Smith.

Nelson-Smith said, “It is appropriate to leave the last word to our previous chair John Barry Heperi-Smith ‘Ka whita te Akikaroa o Tamatea Tauhā, whiwhitā! – The home flames are secured - we are here, we are luminous.’”

Caption: Mayor Alex Walker with Chair of Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea Jenny Nelson-Smith and Bayden Barber, Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated.