Greens bill aims to even the stakes for Māori wards

By Heta Gardiner

Former mayor Andrew Judd, who accused New Zealand of racism, is backing a push for more Māori on councils.

Judd is backing a Private Members Bill after his own bid to have Māori wards in New Plymouth was squashed by a citizen’s referendum.

“Imagine if this process of having representation on council was on the other foot. There would be an uproar and the government would change the law under urgency overnight, I guarantee it,” says Judd.

The bill is being proposed by Green MP Marama Davidson.  She wants a law change whereby citizens can no longer oppose a Māori ward.  Davidson says it’s unfair that general wards are protected from referendums but not Māori.

“This unfair double standard in our electoral law works to limit Māori representation at local government level throughout the country. Removing this discriminatory provision is the right thing to do” says Davidson.

Davidson has been applauded by Judd who is urging political parties to come on board.

“Our councils and communities went through this unfair broken process in trying to get Māori onto councils, so go Marama!” said Judd.

The bill went to ballot in parliament today and needs 61 votes to get a second reading.