A Tamahere-Woodlands super ward is among proposed changes to the future shape of representation on the Waikato District Council.
The new-look ward spanning countryside from Tamahere to Gordonton and taking in Matangi, Eureka, Hautapu, Tauwhare, Koromatua, Newstead, Puketaha, and Pukemoremore, would be the second biggest general ward in the district with a population of 13,350.
The super ward would be represented by two councillors – a ratio of one councillor to 6675 residents – second only in size to a proposed Newcastle-Ngaruawahia ward with a population of 13,450, which would also have two councillors.
The proposed new-look ward taking in Tamahere is a change to one initially proposed in the representation shake-up which would have seen Tamahere bracketed with Newcastle on Hamilton’s northern boundary.
After submissions, many of which emphasised the need for wards to reflect communities of interest, Newcastle is now bracketed with Ngaruawahia.
A month-long period for appeals and objections opened today on the new proposals, which are set to be in place for the next local body elections in 2022. The appeals period closes at 5pm on November 3.
“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,” said Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson.
“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 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.
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.