Council votes unanimously to establish a Māori Ward
Stratford District Council has today decided to introduce a Māori Ward in time for the 2022 local body elections.
Councillors voted unanimously in support of the decision in an emergency meeting of Council held this morning, Friday 21 May 2021- the final day councils can make a decision on establishing Māori representation for the 2022 local election.
Over 100 people were present to hear the outcome of the vote which was welcomed with applause, waiata and haka. Deputations were made to councillors prior to the decision making by representatives of Ngati Ruanui, Ngaruahine, Ngati Maru, Taranaki Iwi, Taranaki Māori Trust Board, Rongomai Community Action Group and individuals Jordon Marshall-Wansbrough of Ngati Maru, Te Atiawa tonu, Taranaki Tuturu, Nga Ruahinerangi, Ngati Ruanui, Nga Rauru hoki, Sue Comrie and Fiona Kahukura.
Mayor Volzke says he is thrilled at the decision which he considers to be in the best interest of our community as a whole.
During the meeting Mayor Volzke called on his colleagues to have an “open mind and make the best decision for the future of this community”, a decision which they as elected members all have to own.
“I applaud my fellow councillors who have reflected on the previous decision to defer this conversation until 2024, listened to what iwi and members of our community have shared with us this week and today and reviewed their position on a Māori ward for the Stratford district.”
“We know what iwi want, the argument or reasoning for deferring this conversation has evaporated,” he said.
Mayor Volzke said, “Without a guaranteed place at the council table, how can they contribute? How can Māori contribute and participate meaningfully if they aren’t in the game and are just sitting on the side line?”
A full representation review will now take place and more details on this process will be shared with the community at a later date.