Let’s Kōrero about a South Wairarapa Māori ward

The Government has made changes to let local councils decide whether or not to have Māori wards in their city or district. We are required to engage with our Māori communities to understand their perspectives before Council makes a decision.

Māori wards is just one part of our Representation Review. Next year we will also look at other wards, ward boundaries, community boards and the number of elected members.

What are wards?

Wards are areas of a city or a district identified for electoral purposes. They work in the same way as seats in a general election. In the South Wairarapa we currently have three wards, Featherston, Martinborough and Greytown.

People can only vote for candidates in their ward, but everyone gets to vote for who they want as Mayor. Although candidates stand for their ward area, when voted on to Council, Councillors swear an oath to work for the district as a whole.

Depending on the number of Councillors and wards, there could be multiple votes on the general roll for each ward. For example, at the last election there were three votes in each ward.

What about Māori wards?

Based on our Māori Electoral Roll, South Wairarapa District Council is eligible to have one Māori ward
across the entire South Wairarapa District.

Māori wards sit alongside general wards in a city or a district. They allow voters on the Māori roll to elect
a representative to their local Council.

Māori wards work in a similar way to Māori seats in Parliament.

The aim of Māori wards is to make sure Māori are represented in local government decision making.

When would the change happen?

If Council decide to have Māori wards this will come into effect for the 2025 & 2028 Local Government Elections.

Council’s current engagement with Māori

Māori wards may be an additional way for Council to provide opportunities to increase Māori participation in decision-making. South Wairarapa District Council currently has a Māori Standing Committee (MSC) that advocates on behalf of and in the best interests of tāngata whenua in the district.

A Māori ward would be in addition to this committee with the successful candidate being one of the South Wairarapa District councillors for the 2025 and 2028 three year election periods.

Who can vote in the Māori wards?

  • People enrolled on the Māori electoral roll can only vote for candidates standing in their Māori
  • People on the general electoral roll can only vote for candidates in their ward.
  • If South Wairarapa District Council had a Maori ward for the 2025 elections, this would mean
    one vote for one Māori ward and one vote for Mayor.
  • People are able to move to the Māori roll during the next Māori Electoral Option in 2024. This is in time for the local elections in 2025.

Standing for election in a Māori ward

To be eligible to stand for election, a candidate must be:

  • A New Zealand citizen (by birth or citizenship ceremony)
  • Enrolled as a Parliamentary elector (anywhere in New Zealand); and
  • Nominated by two electors whose names appear on the Māori electoral roll within the ward a candidate is standing for. Candidates in Māori wards do not need to be of Māori descent, but they do need to be on the parliamentary electoral roll.

Have your say

If you would like to be kept updated on Māori wards or have feedback or questions, please email us at:

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