The Nelson City Council is facing a public backlash over its decision to create a special Maori ward.
A petition that needs about 1700 names to force a poll on the issue has gathered 600 signatures in about ten days.
Ratepayers say they are angry because they were not consulted.
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio says under the Electoral Act there was no requirement to consult.
He says since the decision ten councillors have reaffirmed their support for the Maori ward.
Mr Miccio says if a referendum is held it will be next May.