Waikato District Council has announced a revised final proposal on representation arrangements for the next local body elections with a month-long period for appeals and objections that opens today, and closes at 5pm on 3 November 2021.
Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says, “Our Council has worked hard to make this a really robust representation review, with a consultation programme that started 18 months ago to canvas views from across the district.
“We’ve now also responded to 240 submissions from the community to make some changes to our initial proposal. These changes are designed to ensure our representation arrangements continue to reflect communities of interest, as well as balancing that with the need to ensure fair and effective representation when you consider the size of the population each Councillor represents.”
The Council’s 2021 representation review has considered the shape and number of the district’s voting wards and the number of Councillors elected and has included a similar consideration in respect of the district’s community boards.
In related decisions, the Council has opted to introduce Maaori wards for the 2022 and 2025 local body elections and to retain the ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system.
The final proposal still recommends retaining 13 Councillors, including two Maaori ward Councillors and 11 general ward Councillors, and the Mayor elected at large. However, the number of proposed wards move back up to 10, from the eight initially proposed, and reshaped to allow for fair representation for both Maaori and general wards.
Amendments to the initial proposal include splitting the proposed Te Takiwaa Maaori ward into a northern and southern ward to secure fair representation for Maaori, ensuring both representatives do not come from one area.
Changes to general wards have been made to retain representation for rural communities of interest.
This has resulted in the creation of an Awaroa-Maramarua general ward in the north of the district to link rural communities that are Auckland-facing and have communities of interest across the district’s northern boundary.
It has also resulted in splitting a proposed Tamahere-Newcastle general ward surrounding Hamilton city in the south of the district and re-forming these areas into a Tamahere-Woodlands general ward to the south and east of Hamilton and a Newcastle-Ngaruawahia general ward to the north and west of Hamilton.
Community board changes include the creation of a new Rural and Port Waikato Community Board with four elected members and two appointed Councillors, the extension of the Raglan Community Board with the introduction of a rural subdivision to cover Okete and Te Mata, and the reduction in elected members on the Taupiri Community Board from six to four following submissions regarding over-representation in small urban communities.
A final determination on the proposal will be made by the Local Government Commission as one of the proposed new Council wards, the Western Districts general ward, and a proposed new rural subdivision for the Raglan Community Board, both fall outside the guidelines of being within 10% of the average size of population represented in other wards and community board voting areas. This triggers an automatic appeal.
The Local Government Commission will also decide on any other appeals and objections received within the appeals period.
Appeals and objections can be made online at https://shape.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/reshape-waikato where full information about the representation review and final proposal is available.