Māori wards and constituencies
What is a Māori ward or constituency?
Māori wards and constituencies provide a way for Māori to contribute to decision-making and have representation at council. People elected onto Māori wards and constituencies will represent Māori communities for fair and effective community representation. The establishment of Māori wards or constituencies are one way for councils to honour the principle of partnership committed to in Te Tiriti o Waitangi because they guarantee that Māori will be represented at council.
“Wards” are the parts of a council area that have been determined by population and communities of interest. These can be either general wards or Māori wards. In a regional council, the term “constituency” is used rather than “ward”.
Electors enrolled on the Māori electoral roll will vote for candidates standing for Māori wards. Similarly, electors enrolled on the general electoral roll will vote for candidates standing for general wards.
The successful Māori ward candidates will become councillors at council. Councillors have a responsibility to represent their communities. Māori ward councillors will have a particular responsibility to represent people of Māori descent and bring forward Māori views and aspirations. However, they also represent the entire community in a region, city or district.
Council resolutions to establish Māori wards or constituencies
Recent changes to government legislation allowed councils to decide on whether to include Māori wards in their arrangements – it is not a mandatory requirement. A Council can vote on whether to establish Māori wards for their city or district.
Thirty-five councils will have Māori wards or constituencies in the 2022 elections. Twenty-nine are territorial councils and six are regional councils.
- Northland Regional Council
- Far North District Council
- Kaipara District Council
- Whangārei District Council
- Waikato Regional Council
- Hamilton City Council
- Matamata-Piako District Council
- Ōtorohanga District Council
- Ruapehu District Council
- Taupō District Council
- Waikato District Council
- Waipā District Council
- Taranaki Regional Council
- New Plymouth District Council
- South Taranaki District Council
- Stratford District Council
Bay of Plenty
- Bay of Plenty Regional Council
- Rotorua Lakes Council
- Tauranga City Council
- Whakatāne District Council
Gisborne / Hawke’s Bay
- Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
- Gisborne District Council
- Hastings District Council
- Wairoa District Council
Manawatū / Whanganui
- Horizons Regional Council
- Horowhenua District Council
- Manawatū District Council
- Palmerston North City Council
- Rangitīkei District Council
- Tararua District Council
- Masterton District Council
- Porirua City Council
- Wellington City Council
- Marlborough District Council
- Nelson City Council
Following council resolutions to establish Māori wards, councils consulted with their community to help decide on what was fair and effective number of elected members to have, how they were elected, and whether they were elected from wards or “at large” across the whole district, or by a mix of both. Councils also looked at the boundaries, names of wards and communities of interest.
Following community feedback, councils looked at the options against the requirements of the Local Electoral Act 2001, the general electoral population; the Māori electoral population; the total number of elected members allowed under legislation; and the proportion to be elected from Māori wards.
- The number of councillors they should have
- How councillors are elected – by ward or district
- How many people are represented by each councillor
- Whether their communities would be fairly and effectively represented
- How many wards the council should have and the names of those wards
- How Māori wards will be established and structured
- Whether any changes to wards or ward boundaries were needed
After considering all the different options, councils each made their own decision on their representation arrangements. People who submitted to their council during the consultation period were able to appeal the decision to the Local Government Commission. All appeal decisions are available from the Commission here.
Standing for a Māori ward or constituency
Eligibility criteria and nominees
To be eligible to stand for a Māori ward or constituency, a candidate must be a New Zealand citizen and their name must be on the Parliamentary Electoral Roll anywhere in New Zealand. They do not need to reside in the area (city, district, ward, constituency) that they are standing for.
They will need to be nominated by two electors whose names appear on the Māori electoral roll within the area of election for which the candidate is standing.
Equally if a candidate is on the Māori electoral roll they can stand in a general ward, and will need to be nominated by two electors whose names appear on the general electoral roll within the area of election for which they are standing.
Other requirements are that:
- The candidate or their spouse/partner must not have concerns or interests in contracts over $25,000 with the council.
- If the candidate is subject to a Court Order under section 31 of the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988, they should take legal advice.
- If the candidate is an employee of the council, they must resign before taking up their position as an elected member. The rules of some councils may require them to take leave for campaigning prior to the election.
There are not any formal qualifications required to become a candidate in the local elections. Elected members come from all walks of life and generally have a desire to serve their community.
The nomination paper provides a space for a candidate to put an affiliation. An affiliation is described in section 57(3) Local Electoral Act 2001 as “an endorsement by any organisation or group (whether incorporated or unincorporated)”.
Candidates who are not part of a political party or group sometimes identify their affiliation as “Independent” or leave as blank (if left blank, nothing will show alongside the name of the candidate on the voting document).
A candidate requiring a specific party affiliation should have authority to adopt the affiliation from the party, organisation or group concerned (i.e. the electoral officer may require a letter of consent from the party, organisation or group giving its consent for the candidate to use the affiliation). This is a safety measure to avoid any illegal adoption of party, group or organisation affiliations.
If candidates wish to list whānau, hapū or iwi details as an affiliation, an endorsement or confirmation letter from a Marae, Whānau Trust, Iwi Authority, or other Māori organisation would be required. It is acknowledged whakapapa is a birth right and situations may occur where candidates may not feel they need to provide proof, in which case whakapapa can be highlighted in the context of the candidate profile statement and other forums and activities.
Situations may arise where the same affiliation is given by two or more candidates, or a candidate provides multiple affiliations. If a candidate provides multiple affiliations, an electoral officer may require multiple endorsement or confirmation letters.
Note that there are length limits to a candidate’s affiliation. The voting document and candidate booklet allows 38 characters before the affiliation truncates.
No affiliation that might cause offence to a reasonable person, or is likely to confuse or mislead electors, will be accepted by the electoral officer.
Candidate profile statement
Candidates may provide the electoral officer with a candidate profile statement with their nomination. This is a statement of up to 150 words containing information about themselves and their policies and intentions if elected to office. The profile may include a recent passport size photograph. The candidate profile statement must be true and accurate. The electoral officer is not required to verify or investigate any information included in this statement and it will be included with the voting document sent to each elector.
If candidates choose not to supply a profile statement or photograph, then a message will appear in the profile booklet that a statement/photograph was not supplied by the candidate.
If a candidate profile statement is submitted in Māori and English, the information contained in each language must be substantially consistent with the information contained in the other language. Therefore, in the case where a candidate includes a mihi or greeting as part of a candidate profile statement provided in Māori, the mihi or greeting should be explained in the English version in a manner substantially consistent with the Māori version – still within the 150-word limit.
If a candidate is standing for more than one position, they are allowed a candidate profile statement for each position.
In addition, the candidate profile statement:
- must state whether or not the candidate’s principal place of residence, being the address in respect of which the candidate is registered as a parliamentary elector, is in the local government area for which the candidate seeks election (for example, either “My principal place of residence is in the Lambton Ward” or “My principal place of residence is not in the Lambton Ward”); and
- if the candidate is seeking election to any other positions in elections to which the Local Electoral Act 2001 applies, must specify each position and state that the candidate is seeking to be elected to the positions.
These statements are not counted as part of the 150-word limit.
How much does it cost to lodge a nomination?
It costs $200 incl. GST to lodge a nomination for each position standing. The funds must be deposited to the electoral officer by close of nominations (midday 12 August 2022).
When are nominations open?
Nominations open on Friday 15 July and close on Friday 12 August 2022 at midday. Nominations must be lodged with the electoral officer at the council the person is standing for.
Lodgement should not be left until the last day because if there are any problems with the details provided there might be insufficient time to resolve them and the nominee could miss out.
About voting in a Māori ward
An elector must be on the Māori electoral roll to vote for a candidate standing in a Māori ward.
Voting documents will look different
Voting documents will be different than previous local elections for people on the Māori electoral roll. They will be able to vote for:
- the Mayor
- Candidates standing in their Māori Ward, and
- Candidates standing for their Community Board or Local Board.
They will not be able to vote for candidates standing in general wards.
Who can be on the Māori electoral roll?
Only New Zealand Māori and the descendants of New Zealand Māori can choose to be on the Māori electoral roll. For those who are enrolling for the first time, they can choose if they want to be on the Māori electoral roll or the general electoral roll.
How to enrol for the first time
An application for registration as a parliamentary elector can be made online here https://vote.nz/enrolling/enrol-or-update/enrol-or-update-online/
The identity verification needed is a New Zealand driver licence, New Zealand passport or RealMe verified identity.
If people are not able to enrol online, they can enrol or update their details in other ways, more information can be found here https://vote.nz/enrolling/enrol-or-update/other-ways-to-enrol/ on the Electoral Commission website or they can call 0800 36 76 56 to arrange for forms to be sent to them directly.
How to change rolls
Those who are already enrolled, either on the Māori electoral roll or the general electoral roll, may want to change electoral rolls before the local elections in October 2022. Unfortunately, they will not be able to change electoral rolls this year. The Māori Electoral Option governs the process for changing electoral rolls and this can only be done every five years after each 5-yearly population census. The next Māori Electoral Option is in 2024.
However, the Government has recently consulted with the public about changing the timing and frequency of Māori Electoral Option and may make legislative changes in 2023. Regardless, any changes will be too late to affect the process before October 2022.
Voting by mail
Electors who are enrolled on the Māori electoral roll or the general electoral roll by Friday 12 August 2022 will receive their voting document in the mail. People can still enrol after this date but they will need to cast a special vote.
The local authority elections are postal elections. Voting documents will be delivered from Friday 16 to Wednesday 21 September 2022 and include a free return envelope. It is recommended votes be posted back to a street receiver post box by Tuesday 4 October 2022 to ensure councils get them before the close of voting. After 4 October 2022, votes are able to be returned to councils’ secure ballot boxes which they will have set up in council facilities. More information about this will be on councils’ websites closer to the election. The close of voting is Saturday midday 8 October 2022.
Once elected, all elected members, whether from General or Māori wards, take a formal oath of office to represent the entire community.
- Download a copy of our Guide to Local Government for more information of how local government works.
If you have more questions contact your Electoral Officer or Deputy Electoral Officer.