- By Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter funded by New Zealand on Air
Howick Ward councillor Maurice Williamson was ‘welcomed to the family’ when he unveiled newly-discovered Māori lineage.
At the Governing Body meeting on October 26, Williamson revealed that some DNA testing showed he had Māori ancestry.
“We have just had a bit of a hiccup in our place because we have got the saliva test back from ancestry.com and we found we do have some [Māori] ancestry.
“I don’t know where it lies in the family tree,” Williamson said.
He raised the issue to question the Māori electoral roll during the discussions of Māori wards at Auckland Council.
“Even if you did sign a statutory declaration saying you thought you had Māori ancestry, how would anybody ever prove you did not – has there been any case taken against someone for making a false claim to that roll?”
Governance Services manager Rose Leonard said Williamson was well within his right to vote on the Māori roll but was unable to answer his question.
Cr Richard Hills said that when people enrolled for the Māori electoral roll, part of the declaration stated that giving false and misleading information is a criminal offence.
“I doubt that most of us are ever checked if we actually live in the house that we say that we have on there but we all as citizens of New Zealand do the right thing,” Hills said.
Some councillors side-eyed Williamson’s revelation.
Cr Josephine Bartley listed off Māori councillors at the table during the discussion eventually tacking on “possibly councillor Williamson” at the end which prompted laughter from some.
Cr Alf Filipaina said they would have to have a hāngī to acknowledge Williamson’s new identity however Williamson responded it was not entirely confirmed yet.
“If you are councillor Williamson, welcome to the family and we will have open arms for you,” Filipaina said.