We get to vote on Maori wards in May

Campaigners in Manawatu, Western Bay of Plenty, and Whakatane have taken sufficient signatures to their respective councils to trigger polls on proposals for Maori wards in their areas.

Signatures on the petitions sent to the Manawatu and Western Bay of Plenty district councils have been validated and a vote will be held in the former on May 15, and in the latter on May 19.

Palmerston North campaigners have more than enough signatures but will work until the deadline on 5pm on Wednesday, February 21, before delivering the petition forms to the Palmerston North City Council, as requested by the council.

Campaigning in Kaikoura will also continue until the Wednesday deadline.

Manawatu required 1004 signatures and delivered 1600 signatures to the council this week, Western Bay of Plenty required 1708 signatures and delivered 4051, Whakatane required 1161 signatures and delivered 1800.

Campaigners in Palmerston North faced hostility from an anti-petition group organised by a councillor with support from the Labour and Green parties, along with one-time New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd, who promoted and lost a vote on Maori wards in his area.

The Palmerston North council made life a little more difficult for campaigners by refusing to accept signatures that had been emailed in, even though the hard copy of the emailed version is available.

An editorial in the Manawatu Standard on Saturday depicted Hobson’s Pledge as some shadowy, dastardly group and criticised “secrecy” by accusing campaigners of not saying they were with Hobson’s Pledge.  See https://i.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/opinion/101493343/hobsons-pledge-doesnt-practise-what-it-preaches

The editorial writer failed to note that campaigners include sitting councillors along with former mayors and councillors who are not Hobson’s Pledge members and who are linked with us by a common interest in the issue.

Besides, the few Hobson Pledge members who were collecting signatures were also handing out Hobson’s Pledge cards.

By Wednesday, we will know the number of signatures handed in to councils in Palmerston North and Kaikoura.

Campaigners have spoken to tens of thousands of people of all walks of life in five districts to find that a common comment by the thousands who have signed, irrespective of race, is that “we should all be the same”, that political rights should be based on citizenship, not ethnicity.

Rarely do we have a chance to vote on race-based affirmative action, as the Maori wards proposals appear to be. We are making the most of the chance to vote. The campaigns are democracy in action.

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