Changes to legislation for Māori wards need to be driven by local councils.

That’s the response of Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta as a campaign against Māori wards is being waged in regions throughout NZ.

Lobby group Hobson’s Pledge is fronting the offensive that Māori wards have no place according to spokesperson Don Brash.

“I think Māori wards is a total nonsense and we should reject it out of hand and I think that when the votes are held they will be rejected in all five areas.”

They have had petitions in towns where they are looking at Māori wards like Whakatāne, Palmerston North, Manawatū and Western Bay of Plenty.

“This is a very fundamental change in our constitution, basing political representation on race. We don't want that in New Zealand, we want people to be treated as Kiwis, not as Māori or not-Māori or Asian or Pasifika.”

Kaikōura Council agreed unanimously to have Māori wards last year.

But it’s not up to them it has to go for a public consultation.

That’s not on says ex-New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd.

“Councils can't make decisions in a true partnership without Māori at the table. The legislation really segregates Māori out by way of law. That's horrendous.”

Under the current legislation if there is 5% of the public who don’t want Māori wards it must go to a referendum.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says those who have been successful in setting up Māori wards are examples to others.

“Ko tāku nei ki ngā koromatua, inā ka kāhuitia ō rātou nei whakaaro kia tukuna mai ki te Kāwanatanga, māku hei titiro ki ngā taiepa, me kī, kei te ture, ka aro atu au au ki tērā. Kei Te Moana-a-Toi kei runga i tērā o ngā kaunihera, kei waenganui i a mātou o Waikato, he tūru Māori kei reira.”

But until the law is changed it seems this is an issue that will continue to be debated.