A group of mayors have written to the government claiming that reintroducing referendums for Māori wards is an 'overreach on local decision-making'. Responding to this, ACT Local Government spokesman Cameron Luxton says:

“This is absurd. Allowing local communities to have a say on their democratic structures is the epitome of local decision-making.

“The mayors also argue the government’s legislation 'undermines the important contributions that Māori are making'. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With no Māori wards, Māori candidates will compete for support on the same debate stages as other candidates, giving voice to their concerns to the wider community.

“In fact, Māori have done a good job of getting elected to councils without Māori wards. Māori make up 13.5 per cent of local representatives, which is very close to their share of the population.

“And Māori perspectives are already being entrenched within local government through Treaty settlements that establish post-settlement governance organisations with the right to be consulted on sensitive decisions.

“In short, there is no problem to be solved.

“ACT campaigned against Labour’s Māori wards regime, and voters put us into government with the expectation we’ll keep our promises. With the restoration of local referendums enshrined in our coalition agreement, this group of activist mayors is on a hiding to nothing.

“The mayors’ real concern is that communities won’t vote the way they want. But that’s democracy.

“ACT says New Zealanders are alike in dignity and this should be reflected in our institutions. With Māori wards legislation set to pass first reading tonight, we’re celebrating a step towards a democracy that recognises our common humanity and does not treat you differently based on who your ancestors were.”

Press Contact

[email protected]