I suspect that most NZ adults could not care one way or another whether there are Māori wards in the local council, but it's likely that if pressed, most Pākehā would say no and most Māori yes. If they votes on the issue, the results would be obvious. Māori are out-numbered almost everywhere.
Nine councils wanted the wards introduced before next year's local council elections. Of these, Tauranga has decided yes, Hamilton said yes, then no, and is now undecided. A vote will be held on May 10th. Palmerston North/Manawatū said yes then no. A petition led to a vote of 69% no, 31% yes. A final decision will be made on May 6t.h. Other councils will decide in the similar time frame.
What is actually at stake?
Those in favour of Māori wards say Māori are either under-represented or not represented at all on their local council, they speak of the need for a Māori view, especially on environment, land and resource issues, and of the Treaty partnership,
Those against, such as Don Brash and Hobson's Choice, feel threatened by a Māori takeover. They say there no partnership was intended in the Treaty and if Māori want to be on Councils, they can stand for election just like everyone else. Māori wards will lead to separatism.
Those voting in Māori wards would be elected from the people enrolled to vote in the Māori parliamentary constituencies. They would have only one vote, like everyone else. Other Māori would vote in the “normal” wards. So I don't think there's an issue of favouritism or expanding separatism.
Unfortunately, what is really at stake —deep down—in the depths of our psyche is probably another instance of unrecognized racism. And for Māori, the need to defend some Māori space.