Government Introduces Bill To Roll Back Māori Wards

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party has sounded the alarm over the Government’s introduction of legislation to remove Māori Wards and roll back years of progress.

“Removing Māori wards would trample all over Te Tiriti and deprive Māori of the democracy they deserve,” says the Green Party spokesperson for Māori Development, Hūhana Lyndon.

“Māori wards were created to establish equitable representation in local government. In this respect, communities have told us the wards work well in ensuring the unique voices and needs of Māori are represented and acknowledged in decision-making processes.

“Now the Government wants to throw this progress to the wind, despite advice from Internal Affairs warning that this legislation could breach the Bill of Rights and raise issues of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity.

“Furthermore, the minister, Simeon Brown, was advised that the Bill may be found to be inconsistent with Te Tiriti and could trigger an urgent Waitangi Tribunal claim.

“Far from giving councils certainty as they prepare for local body elections in 2025, as the minister claims, this legislation will instead throw a cloak of uncertainty over councils and strip another decision-making function from them.

“This is classic overreach by the Government because councils can already make decisions about the establishment of Māori wards, based on the feedback from the communities and iwi they represent.

“Here we have another case of a government willing to indulge in divisive politics without apparent care for the harm and cost it causes in grassroots communities. This Bill must be thrown out,” says Hūhana Lyndon.

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