Marlborough District Council is undertaking a representation review this year, as required every six years under the Local Electoral Act 2001 and Local Electoral Amendment Act 2002. The review was approved by the full Council in September 2020.
The establishment of a Māori ward can also be initiated by the Council as part of this review.
Mayor John Leggett said the Council had long been supportive of increasing Māori representation around the Council table.
“We have invited members from Marlborough’s eight iwi to be part of our committees and we talk to our iwi partners about all aspects of Council’s work. We have made efforts to increase our staff’s knowledge of te ao Māori and te reo Māori and we are recruiting a Kaitakawaenga Iwi Liaison Manager to help us enhance our relationships with our iwi partners.”
“The voice of the Marlborough community should be heard and represented in Council’s decision-making role.”
He said Marlborough has significant pre-European history, stretching back to the earliest settlement of Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu at Te Pokohiwi/Wairau Bar in the 13th century.
“Marlborough’s iwi are close partners and post-settlement they are well placed to help take our region forward. Iwi members are our neighbours, family, friends and business partners - relationships here are positive and strong.”
Mayor Leggett said he personally welcomed the legislative change announced by Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government this week.
“The Government is simply putting in place the same rules to establish Māori wards as for general wards, in time for the 2022 local government elections.”
The public will be able to share their views before any final decision is made.
He said if a Māori ward is established, those on the Māori electoral roll will be able to vote for a candidate. According to the 2018 Census, 15.5% of Marlborough’s population is of Māori descent.
Elections and representation experts Electionnz.com have been contracted by Council to carry out the review, over the next few months. In a representation review, a population formula determines the number of councillors to be elected for each ward. This formula and how it affects Marlborough will be key, especially with the demographic changes seen in recent years.
The review will include a decision on whether councillors, not including the Mayor, are elected by the electors of the district as a whole or through a ward structure, or through a combination of both.
From there any ward structure needs to be identified and the number of members agreed upon. Consideration can also be given to establishing community boards.