Palmerston North votes against Māori wards

By Jessica Tyson

It is confirmed Māori won't be represented with their own seats at the Palmerston North City Council table.

Mayor Grant Smith says he’s disappointed by the preliminary poll results that show more than 14,000 people voted against having a Māori ward, while around 7,000 voted in favour.

"Māori representation is unique to New Zealand. It is part of our constitution and the Treaty of Waitangi.  Local government is the only area where we don't have it, and I had hoped our community would have voted differently to address this anomaly," he says.

However, the mayor says the poll allowed the democratic process to take place and he's pleased with the level of engagement.

"During the voting period I heard debates from both sides and I am pleased the community has had a healthy discussion on the subject,” he says.

 “On a positive note, more than 21,000 people took part in the poll and this is an excellent level of engagement.  I thank people for taking the opportunity to have their say".

He says the council co-governs the Manawatū River with local iwi, and will look at ways to extend that co-governance with other reserves and parks.

The official results for the Māori ward poll will be available by Thursday May 24.