Five out of five for Maori wards votes

Petitions in both Palmerston North and Kaikoura were validated on Wednesday, which means that all five districts where councils have voted to establish Maori wards will have a vote in May on whether or not those should proceed.

Campaigners in Palmerston North presented 3776 signatures by the 5pm February 21 deadline when 2727 were required, while those in Kaikoura presented 373 signatures when 300 were required.

Petitions in Manawatu, Western Bay of Plenty, and Whakatane had been validated a week earlier.

Manawatu required 1004 signatures and delivered 1600, Western Bay of Plenty required 1708 and delivered 4051, while Whakatane required 1161 and delivered 1800.

Radio New Zealand wrongly credited Hobson's Pledge with gathering enough support to force votes in five districts.

Had the reporter asked a few more questions, he would have found out that groups were collecting signatures in Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, and Manawatu before we helped put out a flyer in all districts.

Reacting to a validated petition that he thought would never get off the ground, Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith said “a government mandate should require co-governance” on councils. See https://i.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/101666990/campaigners-gear-up-for-mori-wards-polls

Meanwhile, the parties of our coalition government seem to be at odds on this issue.

Green co-leader James Shaw told Radio New Zealand that the law which allows affected residents to petition for a vote on Maori wards discriminates against Maori and therefore should be changed. See https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018633186/govt-open-to-reviewing-maori-ward-law

In the same report, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta refused to say if she thought the law was racist but said it was inconsistent and wants the sector to write to her.

And New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said a law that allows people to have a democratic say cannot be racist.

No central or local government body should be able to create racial segregation without a vote confirming that it is the will of their community.

Councillors are elected to provide clean drinking water, to manage roads, sewage, drainage, libraries, sports facilities and cultural centres, all of which are for the benefit of everyone.

We don’t need Maori wards for that.

Voting documents will be posted on April 27 and the vote closes on May 19.

If you wish to help, we need volunteers in all areas to deliver flyers and to erect signs.

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