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Tauranga City Council vote to establish Māori ward

Tauranga City Council has voted to establish a Māori ward in the city resulting in rapturous applause and an impromptu haka by those in attendance.

Marae carving. Source: istock.com

It's been more than 20 years since Tauranga elected someone from the Māori community to council. In 1992 Maria Ngatai served in the then Tauranga District Council. 

Independent Chairwoman of Te Rangapu Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana, Matire Duncan, says establishing a Māori Ward will "strengthen Māori voice".

She says this is "an exciting opportunity to show New Zealanders how this can work" in order to grow our city and "our people".

Speaking to councillors she says the matter of a Māori representative is likely to be of "huge interest" to the whole of community and says it will generate both positive and negative feedback.

She says not having a Māori ward is "not in the spirit" of partnership as outlined by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Councillors had differing views with many imploring others to vote yes, and the prospect of a referendum which many said would fail, wasn't a strong enough reason to vote against it.

The council voted in favour to receive the report, approve recommendations including voting rights and to establish a Māori Ward for the Tauranga City local government elections in 2022.