Hikoi in support of Māori wards in Whakatāne

By Jessica Tyson

 Whakatāne residents have taken to the streets today in a hikoi to support the establishment of Māori wards.

The hikoi was led by former mayor of New Plymouth Andrew Judd who is lobbying for the removal of the legislation that forces Māori wards to go to a poll.

Judd recently said on Native Affairs that councils operate under a representation of boards including rural and urban wards, but Māori wards are the only one that has to be petitioned.

“And that’s what I’m challenging to change. Without Māori at the table, decisions aren’t fully informed and they’re not fully inclusive”.

Around 40 percent of people living in Whakatāne are Māori and supporters would like to see that reflected in the council.

At today's event people were able to cast their votes, listen to speeches and take part in fundraisers.

Later today a discussion between Judd and Colin Holmes, who is opposed to Māori wards, will take place at a Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae.

Our reporter Mere McLean will have more on this story tonight on Te Kāea.