Establishing Māori constituencies on Hawke’s Bay Regional Council - Q&As

On this page you can find some questions and answers we think you may want to ask wheter to establish Māori constituencies on Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

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The Council is seeking the views of the regional community on whether to establish Māori constituencies for voters on the Māori electoral roll to elect councillors on to the Regional Council in the 2022 elections.

The purpose of this consultation is to inform a Regional Council decision in May 2021 about whether to establish Māori seats at the Council table in time for the 2022 election.

Council is not taking a position on whether it supports the establishment of Māori constituencies for the 2022 elections - until it considers the feedback received from this consultation.

The consultation process to inform Council’s decision on whether to establish Māori constituencies is:

  • 22 March – 22 April: Māori constituencies public consultation campaign
  • 3 - 4 May: Submission Hearings
  • 19 May: Extraordinary Council meeting to decide whether to establish Māori constituencies.
  • If the 19 May decision is to establish Māori constituencies, a Representation Review will be undertaken July - November 2021

People wishing to submit on this consultation are invited to do so by 22 April 2021.

Submissions can be made online here or in writing to the Regional Council by completing the submission form on the back page of the Consultation Document which can be printed.

A constituency is a group of voters within a specified area who elect a representative to a regional council.

Regional Councils are required to have constituencies. City and district councils have wards.

The difference between a Māori constituency and a General constituency is the voters in the Māori constituency are enrolled on the Māori roll while voters in General constituencies are on the General roll.

The aim of Māori constituencies is to guarantee Māori representation on the Regional Council, like the dedicated electorate seats in Parliament.

Māori wards and constituencies were established as an option for Councils by the Local Electoral Act 2001, which allowed Councils to decide to have one or more Māori constituencies based on population.

The Regional Council is required under the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) to provide for Māori participation in Regional Council’s decision-making.

The key provision is Section 4 of the LGA, namely: "In order to recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to take appropriate account of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) principles, and to maintain and improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to local government decision-making processes, Parts 2 and 6 provide principles and requirements for local authorities that are intended to facilitate participation by Māori in local authority decision-making processes."

Hawke’s Bay currently has no dedicated Māori regional council seats. The Regional Council is not required to, but can decide to establish Māori constituencies as one way to give effect to Section 4.

Māori representation is premised on Māori being a distinct ‘community of interest’ that has not been well served by traditional electoral arrangements. As noted following, Māori participation is currently provided for in a range of ways and whether it is necessary to extend this to dedicated Māori constituencies is a question for the Regional Council to determine.

Māori constituencies would ensure Māori are guaranteed representation on the Regional Council. The option to have guaranteed representation reflects the particular constitutional status of Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) and provided for in the Local Government and Local Electoral Acts.

Establishing Māori constituencies would add to the Regional Council’s existing methods to engage with Māori, not replace them. They provide another avenue for issues of priority, concern or interest to Māori on the Māori electoral roll to be more directly brought to the Regional Council.

Māori constituencies may also encourage more Māori to participate in local elections by standing for office and voting.

The Regional Council has an obligation under the Local Government Act (LGA) and a strong desire (articulated through Council’s Strategic Plan) to support Māori participation in Regional Council’s decision-making.

The Regional Council has a responsibility on behalf of the Crown, to take appropriate account of the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) and to maintain and improve opportunities for Māori to contribute to local government decision-making processes (LGA s4).

Under LGA s14(1)(d) the Regional Council must establish and maintain processes to provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to decision making processes. The Regional Council also needs to consider ways in which to foster the development of Māori capacity to contribute to decision-making processes (LGA s81).

In the course of its decision-making process, the Regional Council needs to take into account the relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral land, water, sites, waahi tapu, valued flora and fauna, and other taonga (LGA s77). Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Strategic Plan states: “As expressed in our purpose statement, “working with our community” is at the heart of everything we do. This is particularly relevant to our relationships with tangata whenua in terms of co-governance and co-management. Successful relationships involve building trust, which in turn enables us to support each other to respond to new challenges as they arise.”

Values in Council’s Strategic Plan include Partnership and Collaboration “We work with our community in everything we do”.

The Strategic Plan sets out the Regional Council’s approach, which includes Collaboration - “Develop our skills and capacity to partner with tāngata whenua, communities, councils, central government, businesses, farmers and growers for collective action.

Māori represent over one-quarter of the region’s population – with 27% of Hawke’s Bay’s population being of Māori descent and 6.8% of our region’s population speaking Te Reo Māori.

There are 11 iwi groups, 91 hapū and 79 marae throughout Hawke’s Bay. Ngāti Kahungunu’s area covers from Paritū north of Mahia to Tūrakirae on the south Wellington Coast.

Māori make a significant contribution to our region both as mana whenua and treaty partners, and also through:

  • their ownership of assets
  • regional economic development
  • participation in co-governance and
  • their growing influence as kaitiaki in the conservation, preservation and management of our natural resources.

Currently, Council has several mechanisms in place to support Māori participation in Council decision-making.  These include the Māori Committee and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Planning Committee.

Māori constituencies would be additional to Council’s existing engagement through the Māori Committee and Regional Planning Committee.

The Māori Committee includes 12 representatives nominated by each of the four Taiwhenua in the region. It also includes three councillors. Each Taiwhenua representative is expected to engage with their constituents on behalf of the committee.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Planning Committee (RPC) includes nine representatives from post-settlement governance entities (PSGEs) of the region and an equal number of Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillors. The role of the RPC is to oversee the review and development of the Regional Policy Statement and regional plans which aim to manage the region’s natural resources. 

In addition, the chair of the Māori Committee and a tangata whenua representative from the Regional Planning Committee participate in Regional Council meetings as non voting members, and tangata whenua representatives from each of the RPC and Māori Committee are appointed to council committees (Hearings, Corporate & Strategic, Environment & Integrated Catchments) to inform and give their views and aid in Tangata whenua understanding of Regional Council issues. 

Changes to councils committees are at the discretion of the council to determine from time to time, typically at the beginning of each new council term, including the Māori committee, while the RPC is established by an Act of Parliament, so cannot be changed by council.

Currently there are 2 Hawke's Bay Regional Councillors of Māori descent. There is no guarantee however, under the current arrangements, that Māori will have the same level of representation in the future. 

The operational arm of council includes a dedicated Māori Partnerships Group to ensure strategic planning and engagement support and to aid the meaningful participation of tangata whenua in council processes.

Council provides other opportunities for Māori to contribute to decision-making depending on the issue, such as through Māori consultative groups, or appointments to sub-committees and working groups.

Māori constituency councillors would be voted in by people enrolled on the Māori electoral roll in Hawke’s Bay.

If you are Māori, you can choose between the Māori roll and the General roll when you first enrol to vote.

Once you are enrolled, you can only change rolls during the Māori Electoral Option process, which is usually held every 5 years.

If you are already enrolled, the next opportunity to change rolls will be in 2024. The last option was held in 2018.

No. The law only requires that a person is eligible to stand for election and that they are nominated by two electors on the Māori Electoral Roll within the respective area that they are standing for.

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

  • A New Zealand citizen (by birth or citizenship ceremony); and
  • Enrolled as a Parliamentary elector (anywhere in New Zealand); and
  • Nominated by two electors whose names appear on the electoral roll within the respective area or constituency that a candidate is standing for.
  • Candidates cannot stand for both a General and a Māori constituency in the same region at the same time.

In February 2021 the Local Electoral Act was changed to remove:

• the requirement for a binding referendum if 5 percent of voters sign a petition, and

• the ability for councils to initiate a binding poll on whether to establish Māori wards or Māori constituencies.

This prompted the Regional Council to vote unanimously to undertake public consultation on whether to establish Māori constituencies. The Regional Council needs to make a decision by 21 May 2021 to take advantage of the “transition period” afforded by the Local Electoral (Māori wards and Māori constituencies) Amendment Act.

The scope of that decision is whether or not to establish Māori constituencies for voters on the Māori electoral roll to elect councillors on to Hawke’s Bay Regional Council in the 2022 elections.

Once elected, Māori constituency councillors have the same responsibility as other councillors. All councillors are required to make a declaration when they take office that they will carry out their duties and make decisions in the best interests of the whole region.


Councillors elected to Māori seats are not a substitute for Māori individuals, whānau, hapū, iwi, tangata whenua, mana whenua, etc. in respect of Council’s obligations to consult and engage with Māori.

All councillors have the same responsibilities under various pieces of legislation to engage Māori in decision-making processes.

If, following consultation, the Council resolves to establish Māori constituencies, the process for establishment will be:

  • July - November: Representation Review – which would determine:
    • How many constituencies there would be;
    • How many councillors there would be; and
    • What the names and boundaries of the constituencies would be.
  • By 8 September: Council must give public notice of initial proposal (constituencies)
  • October: Council considers submissions on the initial proposal
  • By 19 November: Council must give public notice of final Representation Arrangements (having considered submissions to the initial proposal)
  • By 15 January 2022: all documentation to the Local Government Commission
  • By 11 April 2022: Local Government Commission must issue its Determination (confirmation of HBRC Representation Arrangement for 2022 and 2025 local elections)
  • 8 October 2022: Local Government elections

There would be either one or two Māori constituencies.

The number of Māori constituency members for election is not discretionary. It is calculated in accordance with the following formula prescribed by the Local Election Act 2001, based on population. The formula is:

nmm  =             mepr             x  nm

                    mepr + gedr

nmm is the number of Māori constituency members.

mepr is the Māori electoral population of the region.

gepr is the general electoral population of the region.

nm is the proposed number of members of the council.

Fractions are rounded up or down to the nearest whole number.

Using this calculation, and the most recent voter statistics from the Local Government Commission,  a Council consisting of 6-8 elected representatives (councillors) would include only 1 Māori representative and a Council made up of 9-14 elected representatives would include 2 Māori representatives. Council decides through the Representation Review the total number of Councillors.

In February 2021, the Māori Committee resolved to “Support the Council taking immediate action to revoke the previous (18 November 2020) resolution to hold a poll on the establishment Māori constituencies at the next (2022) election, and resolve instead to establish Māori constituencies for the next (2022) election.”

The RPC Tangata Whenua Representatives discussed the issue at a Zoom hui in November 2020 and those in attendance unanimously supported the establishment of Māori constituencies for Hawke’s Bay for the 2022 election. Subsequently, Council received written communication of support from those not in attendance.

Council respects and acknowledges the Māori Committee and the Regional Planning Committee’s support for Māori constituencies This is a significant decision for Council and Councillors want to ensure all members of the community have an opportunity to share their views.

Under the Local Government Act, the Council must have regard to its Significance and Engagement Policy when making decisions.  The Council’s assessment under the policy concluded that the substantive decision to establish (or not) Māori seats is of HIGH significance and that further engagement is warranted to support such a significant decision.


Regional Council has an obligation (under the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Local Government Act) and a strong desire (through Council’s Strategic Plan) to support Māori participation in Council’s decision-making.

Māori representation is premised on Māori being a distinct ‘community of interest’ that has not been well served by traditional electoral arrangements.

Māori constituencies would ensure Māori are guaranteed representation on Council.  This reflects the particular constitutional status of Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi and provided for in the Local Government Act.

Māori registered on the Māori electoral roll would get to vote for Māori constituencies. 

The fundamental democratic principle of one person one vote remains.

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