12 Feb 2015

Petition to spark Maori ward referendum

1:10 pm on 12 February 2015

New Plymouth is destined for a referendum over a controversial move to introduce a designated seat for Maori at next year's local body elections.

New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd (left) accepts a petition from Hugh Johnson which is likely to spark a referendum on the establishment of a designated seat for Maori on council.

New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd (left) accepts the petition from Hugh Johnson. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The district council's decision to introduce a Maori ward in 2016 met with opposition when the vote was passed in September last year. Councillor John McLeod resigned in protest when it was narrowly accepted by 7 votes to 6.

The city's former Greypower president, Hugh Johnson, today gave the mayor a petition with more than 4000 signatures calling for a poll on the Maori ward initiative.

He needed 2700 signatures, or 5 per cent of eligible voters, to spark a binding referendum.

Mayor Andrew Judd received the petition backed by about 50 supporters.

He said it was now up to the people of the wider district to have their say.

"I respect people's view and I would just challenge people to look within themselves, to question have they fully endorsed or researched what this actually means."

The council says it needs about a week to validate the petition and a referendum is likely to be held in May.

Kaumatua Rangikotuku Rukuwai (centre) blesses Hugh Johnson (left) and New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd following the handover of a petition likely to spark a referendum on the establishment of a designated seat for Maori on the council.

Kaumatua Rangikotuku Rkuwai (centre) blesses Hugh Johnson (left) and New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd following the handover of the petition. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

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