Former councilor backs ward idea

Sue Milner

Hours after the News reported last week it could find no Māori who had been elected to the Waipā District Council, Sue Milner put the record straight.

The former three term district councillor, who now chairs the Cambridge Community Board, is of Ngai Tahu and Te Aitanga Mahaki decent.

“Fellow councillors knew I was part Māori – I declined an opportunity to be part of the council’s iwi liaison because I am not local,” she explained.

The former councillor has been following the News’ coverage of the Māori ward issue as district councils review their options in a new theatre where their decisions cannot be overturned by a referendum.

She supports the idea of Waipā having a Māori ward – but added the rider that she would want local iwi to also support the ward and “put their best foot forward” by being involved in the nomination process.

Waipā District Council has launched a consultation process as part of its consideration for establishing a Māori ward having decided not to do so and instead appoint iwi representatives with voting rights on each of its four standing committees.

It prompted Cllr Hazel Barnes to suggest last week that councillors knew what the outcome was going to be, in reference to failed efforts by other councillors to establish wards.
The final decision now, though, will rest with councillors.

The consultation period runs to April 21 and information can be found at…/haveyoursay/maori-ward

The link includes a presentation from the council’s iwi relations advisor Shane Te Ruki who says the Māori ward issue is the “number one discussion at the moment”.

“Māori wards – an opportunity for the display of treaty partnerships… there are lots of plusses; perhaps lots of negatives, who know?” he says.

“But most important is your voice – it’s time to make submissions.”

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