“Labour’s Local Government Electoral Legislation is trying to back councils into a corner where they are forced to consider implementing Māori wards,” says ACT’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Court.

“This is an extension of Labour’s command and control philosophy and co-governance agenda, and it is taking away from councils’ independence.

“Just like with Three Waters, Labour seems intent on stepping on local government’s toes and taking responsibility away from them.

“This legislation forces council to consider and consult on Māori wards and publish a detailed justification if they choose not to implement them.

“There is nothing currently stopping councils from implementing Māori wards if they deem them appropriate and ratepayers support them. All Labour is doing is creating a time-wasting exercise that ties up council resources.

“ACT does not believe Māori wards are necessary to achieve representation as we believe people shouldn’t have different rights based on who their great grandparents were. However, it is up to councils and their ratepayers whether they want to consider them and central government should not be involved.

“Power over democratic institutions should rest with the people who pay the rates, not the people who spend it.”

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