Maaori wards and other means of achieving Maaori representation

Closed 10 May 2021

Opened 16 Apr 2021

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Hamilton City Council is committed to making sure Maaori are best represented in our decision-making process, and is looking to establish Maaori wards from 2022 to achieve this. We want your views on establishing Maaori wards and any other ideas you have for Maaori representation. More information on why this is important and about Maaori wards is laid out here.

Please have a read before giving us your feedback.


Hamiltonians who identify as Maaori make up 23.7% of our city’s population (in 2018). This is projected to increase to around 30% by 2038.

Under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi, the Local Government Act and other legislation, all councils have a duty to provide opportunities for Maaori to contribute to the local government decision-making process, as well as other commitments to Maaori. Given the size of the Maaori population in Hamilton Kirikiriroa, and the unique status of Maaori under Te Tiriti, Hamilton City Council recognises its requirement to give a voice to this significant sector of our community.

Making sure Maaori are best represented in Hamilton City Council’s decision making is not just about complying with Te Tiriti or legislative obligations – it’s also an opportunity to make sure that our relationship with Maaori meets the needs of that community and is one that all Hamiltonians can be proud of and benefit from.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi
The principles of partnership, participation, and protection underpin the relationship between the government and Maaori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi.

Partnership involves working together with iwi, hapuu, maataa waka (Maaori who live in Hamilton, but whose traditional rohe is elsewhere) and Maaori communities reasonably and with good faith on major areas of common interest.

Participation encourages and requires Maaori to be involved at all levels of government, including in the decision-making, planning, development, and delivery of services.

Protection involves the Government working to ensure Maaori have the same level of opportunity and access to services as non-Maaori, and safeguarding Maaori cultural concepts, values and practices.

Read more about Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi here

Local Government Act and other legislation
The Local Government Act (LGA) and other legislation is how central government requires councils to recognise and respect Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi obligations. This means local government acknowledges the unique perspective of Maaori on decisions that relate to people, land, assets, and resources. Specifically, the LGA requires councils to provide opportunities for Maaori to contribute to the decision-making process and consider ways to enhance Maaori capacity to contribute to decision-making.

The Local Electoral Act requires councils to enable fair and effective representation for individuals and communities. It is up to each council to choose the most appropriate and effective form of Maaori representation for their population - taking into account the needs and preferences of their Maaori partners and the wider community.

He Pou Manawa Ora
Hamilton City Council is in the process of finalising He Pou Manawa Ora - Pillars of Wellbeing, a strategy which outlines our vision for a city that celebrates its whole history, including its unique Maaori heritage and ensures everyone has a voice in developing its future.

Developed in consultation with key Maaori stakeholders, this strategy, once adopted, would inform how Council will use the pillars of history, unity, prosperity and restoration to build a proud and inclusive city for the wellbeing of all its people.

The unity pillar (he pou toorangapuu) in particular aims to increase Maaori input into Council decision making, through Maaori participation in Council engagement processes, Maaori representation on Council and its committees, and through considering the role of Maatauranga Maaori (Maaori knowledge) in the work Council undertakes.

Public consultation on the draft He Pou Manawa Ora strategy was open in February 2021 and received more than 1000 submissions. Community feedback on He Pou Manawa Ora and the updated strategy will be considered by Council’s Community Committee on 18 May 2021.

Read the draft He Pou Manawa Ora strategy here

What’s in place now?

Hamilton City Council currently has the following arrangements to support Maaori representation and participation in decision-making:

Waikato-Tainui/Hamilton City Council Co-Governance Forum
The Co-governance Forum supports Waikato-Tainui and Council to build a strong and mutually beneficial relationship, provide opportunities for collaboration that promote better wellbeing outcomes through agreed projects, and meet obligations to restore and protect the Waikato River.

Read Waikato-Tainui’s strategic plan, Whakatupuranga 2050, here

Te Haa o te Whenua o Kirikiriroa (THaWK)
A collective mandated to protect the views and interests of their respective hapuu (Ngaati Maahanga, Ngaati Tamainupoo, Ngaati Wairere, Ngaati Korokii Kahukura and Ngaati Hauaa) which have traditional connections to the land and waterways within Hamilton Kirikiriroa. Council’s partnership with THaWK gives mana whenua input into decision making relating to the management of Hamilton’s natural and physical resources.

Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa (TeROK)
Formally established in 1988 and under the direction of the late Maaori Queen, Te Atairangikaahu, and the Mayor of the time, the late Sir Ross Jansen, TeROK represents maataa waka and Pasifika peoples living in Hamilton Kirikiriroa. TeROK provides information and advice and represent the views of maataa waka in the development of Council strategies, policies and plans.

Maangai Maaori
In 2018, Council pioneered the Maangai Maaori model (meaning ‘voice of Maaori’) to represent iwi and maataa waka on Council committees. Maangai Maaori are nominated by iwi and maataa waka organisations based on skill, knowledge and experience and provide a valuable role representing the views of key Maaori partners and stakeholders. Maangai Maaori have speaking and voting rights at their respective committees but do not sit on full Council.

Te Ngaawhaa Whakatupu Ake
Te Ngaawhaa Whakatupu Ake includes members of Waikato-Tainui, THaWK and TeROK, who provide expert and knowledgeable cultural advice, foster and promote the relationship between Council and Maaori, and support collaboration with public, private sector, and central government.

Maaori wards

While there are some mechanisms already in place for Maaori to have input into Council decision making, none of the measures ensure Maaori representation in decisions by having speaking and voting rights at full Council meetings. 

Maaori wards are one way to achieve this, and Council has agreed to consider introducing Maaori wards from the 2022 local government elections. 

Maaori wards allow for Elected Members of Council to be voted in by electors on the Maaori roll. Maaori ward members are obligated to represent the interests of all Hamiltonians, not just the interests of Maaori. 

Recent changes to legislation mean councils can establish Maaori wards for the 2022 elections without the potential for a binding poll generated by just 5% of electors. To introduce Maaori wards from 2022, Council needs to make that decision by 21 May 2021. 

Iwi, mana whenua and other members of the Maaori community have indicated strong support for the establishment of Maaori wards in time for the 2022 elections. 

If Council was to introduce Maaori wards, the number of Maaori ward seats (and General ward seats) would be determined as part of a wider representation review later this year. Based on current population, it is likely that Hamilton would have two Maaori seats. The review would also determine if Maaori ward seats are in addition to or in place of General ward seats.

What happens next

A final decision on Maaori wards and Maaori representation will be made at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 19 May 2021. To speak in the public forum at that meeting, please email