The battle for Māori wards in councils has sparked a passionate debate between Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Don Brash and former New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd.
In a Native Affairs panel, Judd says it’s unfair to not have council reflect the dedicated seven Māori seats we have in government.
“The system is based on race, our race as Pākehā,” Judd told Brash, “It suits us and we’ve put a little wedge in there so we can stop Māori having a voice”.
New wards can be decided by councils, except Māori wards. They can be subject to a binding referendum if five percent of voters call for one.
Judd has petitioned the government to change this law.
Brash’s lobby group, Hobson’s Pledge, campaigned successfully to force referendums of Māori wards in Palmerston North, Kaikoura, Manawatu, Whakatane and Western Bay of Plenty districts.
These districts will hold their referendums in May.
Brash traveled to Palmerston North from Auckland in January to help campaign against the wards.
Not from the area, he admits his presence was an interference.
“I was interfering because I do not want a racially-based constitution in New Zealand. I want a situation where every citizen, Māori, non-Māori, Asian, is treated equally”.