May 5, 2021, 12:04 p.m.
It was an emotional roller-coaster for everyone in attendance at Tuesday's Extraordinary Council meeting when the Far North District Council voted to establish Māori wards in the 2022 elections and immediately review their committee structures to support iwi/hapū participation.
First-term Councillor Moko Tepania forced the Extraordinary Meeting to revisit the establishment of Māori Wards after it was voted down last year. He has been a strong advocate for equitable Māori representation since entering local government politics in 2019.
There was confusion in the room as the first vote, which would have seen a public poll undertaken before Council would revisit the issue, was lost. This was quickly followed by a new motion to not only establish the wards but also included an amendment to review committee structures to include iwi/hapū participation put forward to be voted on. The motion was carried to an eruption of cheers and waiata from the crowd that had packed into the Council Chambers in Kaikohe.
Mayor John Carter and Cr Mate Radich, from the Te Hiku Ward, who had both previously voted against the establishment of Māori Wards, changed their votes and supported an 'And/And' proposal, radically changing the face of local government in the district. Many in the room, including councillors, Council staff and media, were brought to tears.
"Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that this Council would leap so far. Because our mahi in this space was so diluted and to go from one spectrum to the other is beyond my wildest dreams" said Cr Tepania.