No Maori ward for Tasman DC

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The Tasman District Council has decided against establishing a Maori ward, avoiding the backlash Nelson City Council faces.

In an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon held to meet a representation review deadline, Tasman councillors voted to retain the status quo of no Maori ward. They noted this would allow voters in the district the right to demand a poll on the issue if they did not agree with the council.

This is opposite to what Nelson city councillors have done in deciding on November 3 to establish a Maori ward in Nelson for the 2013 election. They have faced an angry public response over the lack of consultation and now a petition is calling for the city council to hold a poll on the subject.

In taking the reverse approach to the city council, Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne said: “We did a different approach which we felt was in fitting with our community, which also includes our iwi. We felt it was the right way to go.”

It was clear there had been a backlash in Nelson. “I suspect we would have had an equal or stronger backlash if the council had voted for a Maori ward.

“I would not want that to happen here in Tasman. I don’t think it does our relations any good.”

He described the district council’s relationship with iwi as “really, really healthy” and said there was a lot of mutual respect.

The council had to meet a deadline of today to decide what to do as part of a six-yearly representation review required under legislation. Councillors held a full council meeting after an environment and planning committee meeting.

Mr Kempthorne said the decision to retain the status quo of no Maori wards was unanimous, with three councillors absent Kit Maling, Glenys Glover and Paul Sangster.

They also reaffirmed the council’s commitment to working with iwi to enhance effective engagement.

“We didn’t feel one elected representative was a good way of having effective representation of all iwi across the district.”

Kaumatua Archdeacon Andy Joseph would provide support, and as part of Treaty of Waitangi settlements, there would be a new body which would represent iwi on the council to work together on issues of water and land management, said Mr Kempthorne.

– The Nelson Mail

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