Sparks of separatism have been raised over establishing Māori wards on councils, but New Plymouth’s mayor, Andrew Judd, says the division is happening at the Crown's end.
“I challenged the Crown on that because it's only the creation of a Māori ward that goes to a binding poll by the community, any other ward that we create doesn't.”
Mr Judd is expecting a petition in opposition to the Māori wards, forcing a poll binding on the community for the next six years. He says it’s a process that was put in place by the Crown.
“That is divisive, and two systems for the same terms ward within the council area - that has to change.”
Mr Judd, a NZ-born Pākehā, has been mayor of New Plymouth since October 2013. He says the role has allowed him to focus on New Zealand’s historic past, highlighting gaps in his schooling which included the Treaty of Waitangi.
“As I've come to learn it's made me angry; angry that we don't know this stuff - that it's not openly talked about.
“It's a disgrace and it has to change.”
The mayor has been challenged by his electorate on housing issues, his stance on the Treaty, and now Māori wards in council.
“Waitangi Day aside, we should talk about this every day, not just one day a year. Representation at council for me is a priority.”