Representation Review 2024

Representation Review 2024 website pic with clear background

We are reviewing our district’s representation arrangements for the 2025 and 2028 local government elections.

The representation review process determines how the council is made up, including the number of councillors to be elected, the basis of election for councillors (such as wards, boundaries and names of those wards), and whether there are to be community boards in the district, where they might be and what their membership arrangements are.

How are you represented by your council?

The first step of a representation review is to listen to our communities and learn what they think representation should look like at the council via a preliminary survey. Currently, Whanganui is represented by a mayor, 12 councillors and a Rural Community Board. We want to hear what the Whanganui community thinks about the current arrangements and whether they believe any particular changes should be made.

Based on feedback from the preliminary survey, a representation proposal will be put to the Whanganui district for consultation. You can then give feedback on your preferred representative arrangement. 

Take the preliminary survey here

What happens then?

Based on the formal consultation feedback, a decision of the council’s arrangement will be made in July 2024. Community members can make an appeal to the Local Government Commission (LGC) on this decision if they wish, and the LGC will determine the final decision by April 2025. If no appeals are made, July 2024 will be when we know what the future representation of the council will look like.  

What is the Awheawhe working party?

The Awheawhe working party is made up of councillors and council officers who are responsible for analysing the information that results from the consultations and putting together the representation proposal. The Awheawhe councillors are: 

Frequently Asked Questions

All local councils are required to carry out a representation review at least every six years. This is to make sure residents have fair and effective representation at local elections. It must consider:

  • Whether for a city or district council, members should be elected from the whole district, wards, or from a mixture of both on an 'at large' basis.
  • The areas of wards and constituencies and their boundaries.
  • The number of members to be elected from each ward and constituency.
  • Whether there should be community boards in a city or district.
  • If there are to be community boards, the number of members of the board, the boundaries of the community and whether the area is to be divided for electoral purposes.

Whanganui District Council had the last review in 2018, in preparation for the 2019 elections. Therefore, we need to do another review in 2024, in preparation for 2025 and 2028 local elections.

Currently, the council is made up of the mayor, who is elected by all voters in the Whanganui district as a whole (also referred to as ‘at large’) and 12 councillors.

There is also the Rural Community Board, which has seven elected members across three subdivisions: Kai Iwi (3), Whanganui (2), and Kaitoke (2). 

No. Whanganui District Council reviewed its electoral system in 2019 and the decision was to use First Past the Post for the 2022 and 2025 election.

How the review is undertaken is set out in the Local Electoral Act 2001. The council has to consider three key factors when reviewing representation arrangements:

  • Fair representation of electors.
  • Communities of interest.
  • Effective representation of communities of interest.

Generally, a community of interest is a geographic area where people feel a sense of belonging. It is a place where the people living there look to the immediate area for social, service and economic support. A community of interest can be influenced by geographic features.

The council must ensure that the election of councillors provides effective representation of the various communities that make up the Whanganui district. Defining communities of interest then is a key part of the representation review process.

Guidelines to identify communities of interest are:

  • People feeling a sense of identity and belonging to the area.
  • People using the same services.
  • Elected members being able to effectively represent the interests of the area.

Once communities of interest have been identified, the council needs to consider the extent that these communities of interest are geographically distinct and if specific representation is needed.

Effective representation is looking at the total number of councillors there are in relation to the size and geography of the area and diversity of its people. 

The mayor of a district is elected from the whole of the district or city. Other councillors may be elected in one of the following ways depending on the system adopted by the council:

  • “At large”, this is from the whole city or district.
  • From wards (geographic subdivisions of the city or district).
  • From a combination of “at large” and ward elections – with some members being elected at large and some members elected from wards.

Parliament has been reviewing the Local Government Electoral Legislation Bill and a key element in this Bill requires councils that do not have Māori wards to decide whether to have specific Māori representation. The Local Electoral Act 2001 says that Māori wards or areas may be created, and a choice had to be made by November 23, 2023, which is two years before the next election.

After a public consultation that ran from 7 August 2023 to 8 September 2023, it was decided that Māori wards would be established for the 2025 and 2028 elections. 

Following this decision, the council now needs to review the total number of elected members positions, and more widely determine what fair and effective representation looks like for electors and communities of interest. 

See more information here.

Councillors are funded from district rates, but changes to the ward boundaries or the number of councillors will not have a significant impact on rates.

Councillors’ remuneration is based on a fixed pool of funds which is set independently by a government agency, the Remuneration Authority. This amount does not go up or down in relation to the number of councillors. It also means that any change in the number of councillors would not affect the total amount paid to councillors overall, as the total is divided between the number of elected members.

Community boards are funded by a targeted rate within the respective ward (see below).

A community board is an elected body that works locally in the specific geographic area it represents. Community boards are often established in wards which cover a wide geographical area and contain groups with significantly different communities of interest.

A community board is an unincorporated body and is not a committee of the council.

Community boards can have a range of purposes including:

  • representing and advocating for the interests of its local community
  • considering and reporting on matters referred to it by the council
  • maintaining an overview of services provided by the council within the local community
  • preparing submissions to the council for funding within the community
  • communicating with community organisations and special interest groups within the community undertaking any other responsibilities delegated to it by the council.

You can complete the preliminary engagement survey from Wednesday, 7 February 2024.

The formal consultation with several options of representation will be open on this page in May 2024.

Alternatively, you can email us your comments to Rep2023@whanganui.govt.nz