Auckland Council opens consultation on whether Māori seats should be on its governing body

Auckland Council is asking locals for their views on whether Māori seats should be on its governing body.

The consultation period is from August 21 to September 24. The Governing Body will then consider this feedback in October to decide on Māori seats for the 2025 local elections.

Councillor Kerrin Leoni said Aucklanders' feedback will help shape the future of the city.

"Many councils around the country have already successfully established Māori wards. We now have an opportunity to create stronger partnerships that will benefit everyone living in our city," she said.

"Auckland has the largest Māori population in the country but we have no seats representing Māori voters."

Aucklanders are being asked for feedback on three options:

  • the Parliamentary model (Māori wards)
  • the Royal Commission model
  • a different model.

The Parliamentary model would allow for one or two Māori councillors, according to a formula determined by the Local Electoral Act 2001. Whereas the Royal Commission model would allow for two elected Māori councillors and one appointed mana whenua seat, but requires new legislation.

Auckland Council will be hosting online, in-person, and marae-based events for people to have their say.

They said they want the public's feedback on what their preferred model is and what they think about introducing Māori seats for the 2025 local elections.

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

But ACT leader David Seymour said having seats reserved just for Māori - "or any ethnic group" - is "abhorrent" and "must be stopped".

"Auckland Council is currently 'consulting' Aucklanders on whether Auckland Council should have Māori seats on its governing body. It's not really consultation though, as their publicity notes that "consultation will not be the only factor considered when making a decision," he said.

"The publicity material contains some bizarre statements, such as 'Auckland has the largest Māori population in the country, but we have no seats representing Māori voters'. Unless things have changed while I was asleep, Māori still have a vote in this country and are therefore represented by all of Auckland's 20 councillors."

Seymour promised that ACT in Government would repeal the relevant sections of the Local Electoral Act 2001 and would oppose the introduction of any new legislation that allows "race-based representation".

"To suggest that Auckland's current councillors are somehow not working to represent the interests of all their constituents is ludicrous and offensive," he said.

"As a nation we should be working toward unity, not away from it. Having councillors elected by the population at large means they work for everyone they represent, equally. Councillors elected by one ethnic group are only there to work for that group - which is divisive and morally repugnant."