Maori wards vote gains national attention

Maori wards became an issue of national significance over the past week after five districts voted against them and while a handful of politicians said they want to change the law to outlaw such referenda.

National media largely ignored the issue as regional although a number of stories in Palmerston North’s Manawatu Standard promoting Maori wards and denigrating Hobson’s Pledge were circulated around the Fairfax group.

During the campaign, Green co-leader Marama Davidson resurrected her campaign to change the law to take away the right of affected residents to petition for a vote.

And Local Government New Zealand president Dave Cull sent a letter ostensibly representing the 78 local authorities throughout New Zealand to party leaders in Parliament asking for such a law change.

The Western Bay of Plenty District Council voted to support a Horowhenua remit to the LGNZ annual meeting seeking such a law change while awaiting the result of the referendum that they knew would be heavily opposed to a Maori ward.

We knew that councils ignored their constituents but in Western Bay of Plenty we have evidence of a council working against the wishes of their constituents.

Meanwhile, since the results were announced there has been an outpouring of Maori wards stories.

Lizzy Marvelly wrote “What’s so threatening about a Maori voice?” at, the Manawatu Standard reported the result at, “Labour MP rants against democracy” at, Labour MP Willie Jackson’s news organisation Waatea News said “Maori ward lockout ups pressure for action” at, and “A resounding ‘no’ to Maori wards” was published at

You will notice in these stories that we were credited with orchestrating the votes although residents in the five areas had started work on petitions before we added our support.

Not enough money for Maori?

The Maori Party claimed that Whanau Ora was overlooked in the Budget, saying that it went against the promise that Labour made to voters last year to put $20 million into the scheme over four years. See

Anyone who bothered to look at Vote Maori Affairs in Budget 2018 would see that Whanau Ora received $75-million this year, up from $70-million last year.

The Whanau Ora entry is one of two entries on a second page of that section of the Budget. If you don't read beyond the first page you get the impression that Whanau Ora was ignored.

It looks like Maori Party leader Che Wilson failed to read enough of that section of Budget 2018.

We hoped that this wasteful policy that was always a sop to the Maori Party had been quietly dropped but it wasn’t.

If the Finance Minister continues to add $5-million a year over the next three years the pledge would have been fulfilled and the Maori Party have in fact nothing to complain about.

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