Waikato pushes on for Regional Maori seats

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(Waikato Times)Waikato Regional Council will push ahead with plans to establish two Maori seats for next year’s election.

The deadline for ratepayers to demand a poll on the issue lapsed this week with the council receiving no valid request.

The issue of local body Maori seats has proven divisive for councils, with Hamilton City councillors last year voting 9-4 against establishing Maori constituencies.

Waikato District Council will hold a poll next month on Maori wards for the next two elections in 2013 and 2016.

Regional council chairman Peter Buckley said the groundwork for strengthening Maori representation started in 2006 when the council reduced the number of councillors, from 14 to 12, and adjusted constituency boundaries to allow for two Maori seats.

The council has started a statutory process looking at the arrangements of seats for next year’s election.

The council will work with iwi to decide the Maori constituency boundaries.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Nelson City Council are the only other local authorities to adopt the system of Maori seats allowed under the Local Electoral Act.

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