New Zealand introduces bill to improve Māori representation in local government

As the country prepares for the 2022 local council elections, the New Zealand government declared Sunday that it is implementing a new government bill to increase Māori representation in local government.

Nanaia Mahuta, the Minister of Local Government, is spearheading the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Reform Bill. The bill proposes three primary amendments, according to a fact sheet on the government’s website. Māori wards and constituencies, which are local government constituents adjacent to general wards and constituencies in which voting is carried out by persons on the Māori parliamentary electoral roll.

The proposed modifications are intended to achieve greater equity between the process of Māori wards and constituencies and the process of general wards and constituencies. The reforms will also “make it easier for local authorities… for the 2022 local government elections to establish Māori wards and constituencies.”

The introduction of the bill is a welcome change that honours the Māori-Pākehā relationship formed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi). As Parliament was presented with two petitions calling for such changes, signed by over 11,000 people late last year, the reform is expected by the New Zealand public.

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