Maori Wards FAQs

What are Māori Wards?

  • Similar to the Māori Parliamentary seats, Māori Wards establish areas where only those on the Māori electoral roll vote for the Māori Ward candidates.
  • They sit alongside the General Wards.
  • Like General Wards they cover the entire district. 

How are Māori Wards established? 

Recent changes to the Local Electoral Act (LEA) removed any options for establishing Māori ward/s other than the Council resolving to have Māori wards. 

  1. Council resolved to establish Māori Wards on Wednesday 28 October 2020.

Now that Council has resolved to seek to establish Māori Wards for next local body elections are they automatically created?  

Yes, unless Councils revokes that decision.

What happens to establish Māori Wards?

First, the number of Māori councillors and Ward boundaries must be finalised as part of a Basis of Election Review process in 2021. 

The Basis of Election Review process determines: 

  • the number of councillors to be elected, 
  • the basis of election for councillors, (Wards, the boundaries and names of those Wards).

Other things to note about the Basis of Election Review:

  • reviews include whether there are to be community boards and, if so, membership arrangements for those boards.
  • The wider Ruapehu community has the opportunity to have their say on the details as part of the Basis of Election Review process.

Who can stand for election in a Māori Ward?

To be eligible to stand for election, a candidate must be: 

  • a New Zealand citizen (by birth or citizenship ceremony); and 
  • enrolled as a Parliamentary elector (anywhere in New Zealand); and 
  • Nominated by two electors whose names appear on the electoral roll within the respective area that a candidate is standing for. As such, candidates in Māori Wards do not have to be of Māori descent. 
  • Candidates cannot stand for General and Māori Wards at the same time.  

At election time who can vote for Māori Ward candidates?

  • Electors on the Māori electoral roll vote for candidates standing for Māori Ward places.
  • Electors on the General electoral roll only vote for candidates from the General Wards.

Who votes for the Mayor?

The mayor is elected 'at large' by all electors (eligible voters). This means all electors from General and Māori Wards vote for the Mayor. 

Should I be on the Māori roll or the General roll?

  • If you are of Māori descent you can enrol in either the General or Māori electoral rolls. 
  • If you are not of Māori descent you can only enrol on the General electoral roll. 

Do Māori Ward elected members only represent Māori?

No. All elected members, whether elected from General or Māori Wards, represent the entire community.

How many Māori Ward councillors would there be?

  • The number of councillors elected from one or more Māori Wards depends on a formula (Schedule 1A of the Local Electoral Act 2001) based on the Māori and General electoral populations of the district, relative to the total number of councillors.
  • The details of the representation arrangements and configuration of what the Wards may look like if Māori Wards were to be established will be discussed as part of the Basis of Election review process.
  • For more detail on the formula and legal process see the 'Report to Council on Consideration of Māori Wards'.

Why do we have the option of establishing Māori Wards in Ruapehu?

  • The option of establishing Māori Wards was developed by Parliament to enhance the role of Māori in local government.
  • Under the Local Electoral Act 2001 Council can introduce designated Māori representation.
  • The Local Government Act 2002 recognises the Crown's responsibility to take appropriate account of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and to maintain and improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to local government decision-making processes.
  • This is reinforced by a Human Rights Commission recommendation that the Māori voice be heard and represented in local government.
  • The Local Government Commission has advised that given Councils' obligations under the Local Government Act 2002 relating to Māori participation, the option of Māori Wards warrants careful consideration.

Do other councils have Māori Wards?

Yes. A number of local authorities with operative Māori representation include; Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, Wairoa District Council. 

Other councils have sought to establish Māori Wards and have had the decision overturned following a binding poll (which is no longer an option). This includes; New Plymouth, Manawatu, Western Bay of Plenty, Palmerston North and Kaikoura.

A number of Councils are also currently working on establishing Māori Wards, including Taupo, New Plymouth, Gisborne and Tauranga.

Is a poll on Māori Wards required?

Polls are no longer an option under the changes to the Act.

Further info?

For further info please email Pauline Welch or phone on 07 895 8188.​​

Page reviewed: 25 Mar 2021 9:32am