A bill that would have forced local and regional councils to have Maori seats was defeated in Parliament.
Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell drafted the member's bill, which would have set up Maori wards and constituencies with the number of seats in proportion to the Maori population in council areas.
Mr Flavell said Maori were marginalised in local government with less than 5 percent representation.
"We just don't get a Maori view at the decision-making tables, despite the Treaty of Waitangi and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," he said.
National opposed the bill last night.
MP Chester Borrows said his party had no problem with councils setting up Maori seats if they wanted them, but it did not believe they should be forced to do it through legislation.
Labour supported the bill and said it should go to a select committee for public submissions.
The bill was defeated 64-57 on its first reading.
Before the debate was held, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson presented a report which said the bill appeared to breach the Bill of Rights Act because it drew a distinction on the basis of race and the formula for calculating the number of Maori seats would lead to a disparity in representation.