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Country's first Maori-constituency councillors sworn in

27 October 2004

The country's first Maori-constituency local councillors were sworn into office with Environment Bay of Plenty's new council team today in Whakatane.

Raewyn Bennett, Tiipene Marr and Tai Eru are the inaugural councillors for the newly formed seats of Mauao, Kohi and Okurei on the regional council.

Environment Bay of Plenty is the only local council with dedicated Maori seats after it promoted its own legislation to establish the seats.

Council chief executive Jeff Jones said New Zealand would be watching Environment Bay of Plenty "to see how the direct Maori representation on local government works out".

"Those who are hotly and vocally against the provision of Maori seats on local government will be examining everything we do to try and find problems," he told a powiri for the Maori representatives.

"They will be hoping that the concept is a failure. In particular, for those inaugural councillors from the Maori constituencies, and indeed all of the council, there is a big challenge ahead of you to make the system work."


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