Rotorua Lakes Councillors urged to vote cautiously tomorrow on future elective governance model

Te Tatau o Te Arawa is urging Rotorua district councillors to vote carefully on a recommendation that would guarantee only one Māori seat on Rotorua Lakes Council.

Tomorrow (19 Nov 2021), Full Council will revisit the 2022 Representation Review and consider a Strategy, Policy and Finance (SP&F) Committee recommendation that would adopt the following governance model:

  • 1 Mayor elected at large
  • 1 Māori Ward with 1 seat
  • 1 General Ward with 1 seat
  • 8 “At large” seats
  • A Rotorua Lakes Community Board
  • A Rural Community Board

Te Tatau o Te Arawa deputy chair, Rawiri Waru, is imploring councillors to reconsider their position of support for this recommendation.

“Council’s ‘1-1-8’ representation model came out of the blue. We are concerned and dismayed with both the process used to land on this model and the outcome of the SP&F Committee. We’re hopeful that at tomorrow’s meeting councillors will recognise that the recommendation is out of step with what Te Arawa, voters on the Māori electoral roll and the general community are asking for.”

Mr Waru highlights the submission data.

“An analysis of the data shows that over 50 per cent of submissions received by Council on the Representation Review were in support of having three Māori seats on Council. That’s compared to just four per cent of submissions favouring the Council’s original option of having two Māori seats at the table.”

Te Tatau o Te Arawa recently learnt that Council reduced the number of Māori seats to one because a model it considered after hearings didn’t meet Local Electoral Act requirements.

Mr Waru says Te Tatau already flagged in its own submission what was possible under the Local Electoral Act.

“We would have preferred to ask for a 50/50 split of seats around the table if we knew it was possible under current legislative frameworks. Instead, we aligned our tono (submission) with the Act along with the direction and endorsement of our people and asked for three Māori seats, one at-large, and six general.”

Mr Waru says it would be a travesty if Council signed off on one Māori seat when tāngata whenua and the wider community want three seats.

“We’re asking our elected members to be bold, brave and forward-thinking equitable partners and hear our tono (request). We need you to deliberate and ensure there are three Māori seats on Council at the next election,” says Mr Waru.

Full Council is due to begin at 9:30 am tomorrow (19 Nov) and is expected to be live-streamed here.

Note: This article has been issued to media.