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Unanimous vote for Maori wards

Gisborne councillors have voted unanimously in favour of establishing Maori wards.

There were tears of joy, hugs, and applause from the crowded public gallery after the vote which took place at an extraordinary meeting at the Gisborne District Council this morning.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz said she had been asking herself whether the current representation model was “fit for purpose”.

“I think the obvious answer is no.”

This was the opportunity to work with the community to address that, Mrs Stoltz said.

“Our job now is to go out and get our community on board, tell them why this is good for us . . . this is our opportunity not only to address Maori representation but also to put our weight behind our rural councillors.”

Deputy Mayor Josh Wharehinga ended the hour-long discussion, in which each councillor gave their piece, with a teary korero.

“If not us, then who, and if not now, then when,” he said.

Today was the last day councillors could pass the resolution to be effective in time for the 2022 election.

The council must now give public notice of its decision and of the right for electors to demand a region-wide poll on the matter.

Only 1625 signatures are needed on a petition to require the council to go to a binding poll on Maori wards.

More in tomorow's Herald

YES TO MAORI WARDS: Gisborne district councillors this morning voted in favour of establishing Maori wards. File picture
Ngati Oneone chair Charlotte Gibson embraces Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann after a vote in favour of Maori wards.

  1. Tony Lee says:

    Congratulations to council and to our community. Now begins the inevitable backlash.

    1. Gordon Webb says:

      Perhaps. But even if the decision is accepted on its merits and for the reasons advanced, the genuine problem remains of how you work out a fair representation between those who wish to go on the Maori roll and the city and rural wards. Perhaps that should have been done first?

  2. Peter Jones says:

    Congratulations to the council for being unanimous. Now bring on the binding poll that will prove you all never voted for the wishes of the community. I’m not angry because I can’t stop laughing.