Nelson City Council is to create a Maori ward in time for the next council election in 2013.
That makes it the first city council to do so. The only others with Maori seats are the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils.
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio says one of the council's 12 seats will be allocated to a Maori councillor.
He says the move is a backstop to ensure a Maori ward in Nelson city in case a proposed amalgamation with Tasman District Council does not go ahead.
A referendum on the merger will be held in March.