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Ed Sheeran

Maori seat veto set to go

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Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is promising legislation soon to remove an anomaly that has held back widespread Māori representation.

Ms Mahuta retained to portfolio in the post-election cabinet shake-up, as well as becoming New Zealand’s first female Foreign Affairs Minister.

Councils which create Māori seats or wards can have the decision overturned by a binding referendum which can be forced by a petition of 5 percent of voters.

Calls for change in the last Government were stymied by New Zealand First, but the way is now clear for reform.

"It’s one of the priorities on my list as is progressing the legislation through the house to remove rates arrears off Māori land which is considered unrecoverable. I've got a few areas I would like to focus on in the local government portfolio. They are all ready to go once Government is formed," she says.

Kaipara and Ruapehu district councils last week voted to establish Māori wards for the 2022 election.

Meanwhile, Northland Regional Council is being forced into a byelection after a councillor resigned over its proposed Māori ward.

John Bain walked out of the council’s October meeting during debase on creating a Māori constituency, saying he could not support a broken democracy.

Nominations for a new councillor in the Whangārei urban constituency open on November 24 and close on December 22.

Voting opens on January 26 and closes on Wednesday February 17, results announced publicly a few days later.

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