Miccio: Maori ward poll won't be pulled

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:30 05/05/2012

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The Maori representation poll will not be pulled because there is nothing wrong with the information sent to electors, Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said.

He was responding to comments yesterday by Nelson MP Nick Smith who called for the poll to be pulled because he believed it had been bungled by incorrect information.

Dr Smith said the information sent with voting papers to electors saying that Maori voters would get three votes, while non-Maori would get two was wrong.

The leaflet distributed with voting papers states that electors on the Maori roll are entitled to vote at a triennial election for: The mayor, the Maori ward representative, and the candidate or candidates representing the whole district.

That option could exist based on one possible outcome of a representation review, but not all.

Dr Smith said the law made it plain that if a Maori ward proceeded, a person registered as a Maori voter would get only two votes, one for the Maori ward and one for mayor.

Electoral officer for Nelson Warwick Lampp sought legal advice on Dr Smith's concerns, and said the information was correct. He told the Nelson Mail on Thursday that information he prepared for distribution with the voting forms was correct, but "did not go into some issues".

"We can't make those decisions until the poll is decided," Mr Lampp said.

Majority support for a Maori ward would mean a representation review of how the council is made up.

Mr Lampp clarified the voting rights of Maori electors, should the Nelson City Council poll on a Maori ward be successful.

"The introduction of a Maori ward automatically triggers the need for at least one general ward. However, some level of election of councillors at large [outside of a ward system] is also possible," he said.

A representation review would consider the total number of councillors, the number of general wards, the areas the wards should cover, and the number of councillors elected at large. The community would have the opportunity to make submissions during this process.

"It is important to emphasise that if Nelson city has a Maori ward, an elector on the Maori roll or an elector on the general roll will have the same number of votes," Mr Lampp said.

Mr Miccio supported the legal opinion given to the electoral officer, and said the position stated on the flier was correct.

"There is no need to change or do anything with the poll."

Democracy campaigner Alf Newman said the leaflet sent out with voting papers was an "unlawful crock" because it did not give voters the full story, and appeared to be based on conclusions drawn from a review already having been conducted.

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Mr Miccio said Mr Newman was entitled to his opinion, along with many others who had different opinions.

"We've had it verified by the electoral officer, and the information is correct as it is. We have followed the law," Mr Miccio said.

The voter return in the poll up to 11am yesterday was almost 28 per cent, with 9862 votes received.

- The Nelson Mail

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