Local Government Commission provides Māori wards advice
12 December 2023
The Local Government Commission has provided an update in response to enquiries received regarding Māori wards/constituencies after the release of coalition agreements, which refer to “the right to local referendum on the establishment or ongoing use of Māori wards, including requiring a referendum on any wards established without referendum at the next Local Body elections”.
The Commission’s advice below is based on the Local Electoral Act 2001 as it currently stands.
Council resolutions regarding the establishment of Māori wards continue in effect for the 2025 local election
Section 19Z of the Local Electoral Act 2001 (the LEA) addresses council decision-making in relation to the establishment of Māori wards/constituencies. Section 19Z(3)(a) of the LEA sets a deadline of 23 November 2023 for council resolutions to establish Māori wards/constituencies.
In the Commission’s view, any further council resolutions made under section 19Z would not take effect for the 2025 local election. This is because:
- Section 19Z(3)(b) makes it clear that any resolution made after 23 November 2023 will not take effect until the 2028 local election; and
- Section 19Z(3)(c) states that any decision to establish Māori wards takes effect for 2 triennial elections and continues in effect until a further resolution under this section takes effect.
The combined effect of these provisions means that council resolutions regarding the establishment of Māori wards continue in effect for the 2025 local election.
Councils that have established Māori wards/constituencies for the first time must complete a representation review
Clauses 1(1) and 3(1) of Schedule 1A of the LEA require councils that have established Māori wards/constituencies for the first time to undertake a representation review. These clauses do not take into consideration the timing of the council’s previous representation review. This means that all councils that have established Māori ward/constituencies for the first time must complete a representation review next year, whether it is ‘in cycle’ or ‘out of cycle’.
Representation options should include Māori wards/constituencies where these have been established
Sections 19H, 19I and 19J, along with clauses 1(2) and 2(2) of Schedule 1A of the LEA set out the matters that councils must determine as part of an initial representation proposal. There are a number of factors to consider, which the Commission has touched on in previous updates.
Councils may choose to consider various representation options ahead of resolving one initial representation proposal. In the Commission’s view, where councils have established Māori wards/constituencies, all representation options considered should include these (using the relevant calculation of Māori members in accordance with clauses 2 and 4 of Schedule 1A).
You can contact the Commission team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org