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Me whai rohe pōti Māori tātau? Should we have Māori wards for our local government elections?

The Government recently introduced legislation changes to put in place the same rules to establish Māori wards as those for General wards, for next year’s local elections.

Under the Local Electoral Act 2001, councils may decide to use wards for elections. People’s needs and priorities may vary based on where they live, and wards enable residents of specific locations to have guaranteed representation among our elected councillors.

This model is used by Hastings District Council, with voters electing candidates from one of five General wards including Flaxmere, Hastings/Havelock North, Heretaunga, Mōhaka and Kahurānaki wards.

Similarly, introducing Māori wards would enable voters on the Māori electoral roll to have guaranteed Māori representation around the council table. It would effectively be the local government equivalent of the seven Māori seats in our Parliament.

The Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill changed the Local Electoral Act, giving all councils until 21 May 2021 to choose one of two options:

  1. Establish Māori wards for the 2022/2025 elections
  2. Retain the status quo, which is no Māori wards for 2022 elections (and instead consider this matter in Council’s 2024/25 representation review, ahead of the 2025 elections).

Hastings District Council’s Heretaunga Takoto Noa Māori standing committee recommended on 22 April Council chooses the first option, and the next day, councillors decided to put the question out to the community.

As this is a significant decision, Council will consider the views of all of the Hastings district when making our decision.

Please note: All councils have a chance to make a decision on this matter, so if you have already submitted to Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, you will still need to make a separate submission to Hastings District Council for us to consider your views.

Fill out the form below before 5pm on 12 May to have your say.

If you have any questions, please see the FAQs for more information.

Consultation closed

12 May 2021, 5:00pm


The population statistics to be used are the Māori electoral population (MEP) and the General electoral population (GEP). These populations are calculated by Statistics New Zealand after each Census and the subsequent Māori electoral option.

The technical definitions of these populations are as follows:

  • MEP: the total number of people registered as voters in Māori parliamentary electorates, plus a proportion of people of New Zealand Māori descent who are not registered as electors of any electorates, plus a proportion of the people of New Zealand Māori descent under the age of 18 years.
  • GEP: the total ordinarily resident population as shown in the last Census of Population and Dwellings, with the exception of the Māori electoral population.

In other words:

  • MEP is based on the number of people enrolled on the Māori electoral roll plus a proportion of those people who are not enrolled or who are aged under 18 years.
  • GEP is the rest of the population.

MEP and GEP are also used in the periodic review of parliamentary electorates.

Other statistics such as the total Māori population and the number of electors on the Māori roll are not to be used in the representation review calculations

The number of members to be elected from Māori wards and constituencies is calculated through a formula and depends on:

  • The total number of elected members for the district that are to be elected through wards; and
  • The Māori Electoral Population (MEP) and General Electoral Population (GEP) of the district.

No, the initial decision to establish Māori wards and constituencies cannot be reversed by the representation review.

However, submissions, appeals and objections may be made on detailed arrangements such as:

  • the total number of members of the council
  • the names of Māori wards and constituencies
  • if there are to be two or more members elected from Māori wards and constituencies, whether there should be one ward or multiple wards
  • if there are to be multiple Māori wards or constituencies, the number and boundaries of those wards and constituencies.

Either can be the case. The second step in the representation review process is to decide what the total number of members for the council should be. This number is used to calculate how many of those members are to be elected from Māori wards or constituencies.

Where the council has decided that some members are to be elected from wards and some at large, the calculation uses the number of members to be elected from wards. The “at large” members are not included in the calculation.

At territorial authority elections,

A person on the Māori roll may vote for:

  • the Mayor
  • members elected from a Māori ward
  • any members elected “at large” from the district as a whole (if applicable)
  • community board or local board members for the geographical area in which they live (if applicable)

A person on the General roll may vote for:

  • the Mayor
  • members elected from a General ward
  • any members elected “at large” from the district as a whole (if applicable)
  • community board or local board members for the geographical area in which they live (if applicable)

If a person of Māori descent is already enrolled, they can change rolls during the next Māori electoral option, scheduled for 2024. A person of Māori descent enrolling for the first time can choose which roll they wish to be on (the General roll of the Māori roll).

Wards are a way of geographically dividing the city district for elections to enable communities of interest to elect representatives. Hastings district is currently divided into five wards including:

  1. Flaxmere
  2. Hastings/Havelock North
  3. Heretaunga
  4. Mōhaka, and
  5. Kahurānaki.

A Māori Ward is a separate “community of interest” which is not delineated geographically. Similar to the Māori Parliamentary seats, introducing Māori wards means only those on the Māori electoral roll vote for the Māori ward candidates.

People on the Māori electoral roll may vote for the Māori ward candidates instead of the General ward, and for the Mayor.

No. Eligible voters on the General roll only vote for candidates from the General wards.

The Mayor is elected 'at large' by all eligible voters. This means all eligible voters from General and Māori wards vote for the Mayor.

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.

Introducing Māori wards would mean only voters on the Māori electoral roll could vote for candidates from Māori wards.

We can have non-Māori stand as Māori ward candidates provided they are:

  1. A New Zealand citizen (by birth or citizenship ceremony); and
  2. Enrolled as a Parliamentary elector (anywhere in New Zealand); and
  3. Nominated by two electors whose names appear on the electoral roll within the respective ward that a candidate is standing for.

Note: Candidates cannot stand for general and Māori wards at the same time. 

The Local Electoral (Māori wards and Māori constituencies) Amendment Act 2021 introduced changes to the Local Electoral Act 2001 to improve the representation of Māori interests in government, and give Māori a voice in local decision making.

Under the Act, councils have a transition period that ends on Friday 21 May 2021 to consider or reconsider introducing Māori wards for the 2022 local government elections.

The number of candidates standing in the Māori wards would be proportionate to Māori electorate population. For example, on the current arrangement of 14 Councillors in the Hastings district, three of them would be elected from Māori wards.

Council will consider the public’s feedback when making this decision at an extraordinary Council meeting to be held on 18 May 2021.

If Council decides to introduce Māori wards, Council would then have to undertake a representation review in the next few months to decide:

  • the overall number of Councillors,
  • number of wards and
  • ward boundaries including Māori wards.

This representation review is subject to extensive community engagement and formal consultation. Initial proposals will be publicly notified by 8 September 2021 followed by formal consultation and the hearing of submissions in late October.

Yes. A few local authorities with operative Māori representation include; Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, Wairoa District Council, but the poll requirements which have recently been removed from legislation proved a significant barrier to establishing Māori wards in many areas.

Following the change in the legislation many other Councils are considering introducing Māori wards in time for the 2022 Local Authority Elections.

Binding polls are no longer an option under the changes to the Act, but non-binding polls may be still be held for public consultation purposes.

If you still have questions please email

Hastings District Council
207 Lyndon Road East, Hastings 4122
Private Bag 9002, Hastings 4156
Phone: +64 6 871 5000
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