Nelson ratepayers have overwhelmingly quashed a proposal that a separate Maori ward be established.
Mayor Aldo Miccio says the proposal was about giving fair representation to Maori around the council table in a simple, cost-effective way, but it is clear the community isn't ready to take that step.
Mr Miccio says he's disappointed by the result but not surprised.
Special votes in the binding poll of have yet to be counted but they're unlikely to overturn 79% opposition to the idea in the total of 15,487 votes received.
Mr Miccio would prefer a Maori ward because it would better allow cultural values to inform decision-making, and it would reduce costs.
He says there's a need for better education of the public on the issue.
"There's a real lack of understanding about how the local government acts, and what council's role is and how we're prescribed - and legislatively have to do," he says.
"They don't have an understanding of why this makes it so much easier for councillors to do their job, as well as giving a representative governance around the table".
The council cannot now re-address the issue until 2016, and in the meantime will make do with mechanisms which it already has in place.