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Northland Māori make push for greater representation in local government

Northland Māori are making a push for greater representation in local government renewing calls for local Māori seats.

Despite having one of the highest Māori population in the country, Northland iwi leaders say the lack of representation in the council means Māori aren’t being heard.

"We have nearly 50 per cent Māori in the Far North and we don't have that representation around our table so this a really important for kaupapa to encourage Māori engagement," Far North Deputy mayor, Tania Mcinnes told 1 NEWS.

The region is made up of four local bodies, the Far North, Whangarei, Kaipara District Councils and the Northland Regional Council.
Of the 39 councillors across the region, only three of them are Māori.

A meeting was held specifically to correct the shortfall and tackle the possible reasons.

“Legislation and processes of local government are shutting out our people they show their disdain for local government through not participating at all,” says iwi leader Pita Tipene.

Voter turnout in Northland is in line with other parts of the country.

But while percentage of Māori voters isn’t known, Iwi leaders say it’s exceptionally low because Māori simply aren't engaged.

Ms Mcinnes says is Māori voted they could really swing the representation around the table.

“One of the reasons Māori don’t vote is 'cause there’s not a confidence in council.”

Some say government intervention is necessary and that may include compulsory Māori seats.

But the Minister of Local Government Mania Mahuta says the solution should come from the community, citing Auckland Council’s Māori Statutory Board as an example.

“There are councils throughout the country that would say there is the lack of Māori representation around their council table and they have taken to the polls the issue of creating Māori wards.”

The hui voting to set up a work party, it’s first meeting will be next week.

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Iwi leaders say a lack of voter turn-out in politics means Māori aren’t being heard. Source: 1 NEWS