Representation Review Final Proposal
The appeal period on our final proposal closed on 3 August 2018. There were no appeals received.
However, as our proposal did not fully comply with the Local Electoral Act’s ‘population equality rule’, the Local Government Commission still had to make a determination on our final representation arrangements.
The Local Government Commission released its determination(PDF, 304KB) on 10 April 2019.
In making its determination the Local Government Commission upheld Council’s decisions. These now become the representation requirements for the 2019 Whanganui District Council local government election.
This means that:
The Whanganui District will continue to be represented by a Mayor and 12 Councillors.
The Mayor and Councillors will continue to be elected by the electors of the Whanganui District as a whole (at large).
The name of the Wanganui Rural Community Board will be changed to the Whanganui Rural Community Board.
The Whanganui Rural Community Board will continue to consist of three subdivisions – namely the Kai Iwi subdivision, Whanganui subdivision and Kaitoke subdivision.
Members of the Whanganui Rural Community Board will continue to elected by the electors of the subdivisions of the community as follows:
Kai Iwi subdivision: Three members
Whanganui subdivision: Two members
Kaitoke subdivision: Two members
Two councillor appointments will continue to be made to the Whanganui Rural Community Board.
Minor adjustments have been made to the Whanganui and Kaitoke subdivision boundaries in order to better meet the Local Government Commission representation guidelines (meshblocks 1684900 and 1685000 have been transferred from the Kaitoke subdivision to the Whanganui subdivision).
The final proposal
We are required by law to review our representation arrangements at least every six years to ensure our community is fairly and effectively represented. This includes reviewing things like the number of elected members, how elected members should be elected (i.e. by wards or ‘at large’) and the boundaries of our rural subdivisions.
We recently asked for your feedback on our proposed representation.
What do we currently have?
We currently have one Mayor and 12 councillors. They are all elected ‘at large’.
We also have one Rural Community Board. This comprises seven elected members across three subdivisions - Whanganui, Kaitoke and Kai Iwi. Two councillors are also appointed to this Board by the Council.
What was our initial proposal?
We proposed to remain with the status quo for most arrangements. This meant keeping the same number of elected members, using an ‘at large’ system for the basis of election and retaining a Rural Community Board. However, two of the three rural subdivisions (Whanganui and Kaitoke) did not meet the population equality rule of the Local Electoral Act. This rule says that each elected member should represent about the same number of people.
As a result, minor changes were proposed to these subdivision boundaries. These changes would allow the Kaitoke subdivision to now meet the rule and would bring the Whanganui subdivision much closer in line. This is because Whanganui currently has too few people for the number of elected members it has, and Kaitoke has too few elected members for the number of people living in the subdivision. Whanganui’s boundary would shift to take in some of what had been Kaitoke - incorporating mesh blocks 1684900 and 1685000.
It was also recommended that the Wanganui Rural Community Board become the Whanganui Rural Community Board. This would align with the Council’s approach to the use of ‘Whanganui’ and recognise the government’s determination in relation to the correction of the spelling. It would also accurately reflect the spelling of the community that Whanganui District Council, and ultimately, the Board, represents.
Council: Why did we propose to stay the same?
We believe that all existing arrangements provide for fair and effective representation. We also intend to canvass representation views again in 2019 with a poll alongside the local government election. This will provide opportunity for feedback on the number of elected members and other electoral matters to inform any representation review that a future Council may make.
Rural Community Board: What did we propose to change?
We have taken into account feedback from the rural community and acknowledge the importance of keeping the Fordell community intact. This is a strongly recognised community with well-developed and enduring social, service and economic connections. It is important that this sense of belonging for residents within this settlement is retained.
In addition, the proposed boundary changes provide the opportunity for larger farming blocks to be incorporated into the more farming-focused Whanganui subdivision. This is considered to be a better community of interest alignment than the existing arrangement within the Kaitoke subdivision.
Even though the proposal does not completely meet the population equality rule, this is still considered to be the most fair and effective means of representation in the rural area. This is because of the need to recognise and protect communities of interest and ensure people with common interests are grouped in the same subdivision. It wasn’t possible to do this and still create a fully compliant proposal.
The proposal we have provided is largely compliant and non-compliance is permitted where respecting communities of interest makes it necessary.
What the community told us
We sought feedback from the community on our initial proposal from 20 June until 3 August 2018. In total we received 10 submissions.
The submission form identified the initial proposal’s key elements and sought public feedback on each point. Submitter views were canvassed on a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’ and opportunity was also provided for further comments and feedback. Although there were only a small number of submitters, and not all answered each question, their responses provide a snapshot of views.
Mayor and 12 councillors
- Six submissions (75%) strongly agreed that this representation arrangement should continue. One disagreed and one strongly disagreed. Two did not answer this question.
- Five comments were made in support of the status quo. These generally noted that the existing system works and, therefore, there is no need to change it. One submitter also identified that this provided opportunity for diverse representation.
- Three submitters made comments that fewer councillors would be more appropriate – for example in terms of Whanganui's size and for affordability.
- Two submitters strongly agreed with the proposal but did not provide any reason / explanation.
At large basis for election
- Five submissions (63%) strongly agreed that we should retain the 'at large' system for election. One was neutral on this point and two strongly disagreed. Two did not answer this question.
- Those who made comments against retaining an 'at large' basis for election (two submitters) suggested that a ward system would provide more diverse representation and that this representation would be more equally spread across the district. It was also claimed that this would enhance accountability and make it easier for the public to contact elected members. One asked what the arguments were against a ward system.
- However, five submitters made supportive comments, such as, our size lent itself to an 'at large' approach and that elected members should be cohesively representing the district as a whole.
- One submitter also made a number of suggestions not related to the representation review.
- One submitter strongly agreed with this proposal but did not provide a comment. One was neutral but also did not provide a reason why.
Changing the name of the Rural Community Board
- Six submitters (76%) either strongly agreed or agreed with this change. Two strongly disagreed. Two did not answer this question.
- There was one comment from a submitter who strongly agreed with this amendment. This support was in the interests of consistency and respect for Māori language and culture.
- The five other submitters in support of the proposal and the two in disagreement did not provide explanations.
Boundary change for the Whanganui subdivision
- Five submissions (63%) either strongly agreed or agreed with this proposal. One was neutral, two disagreed and two did not answer this question.
- There were no comments provided in response to this.
Boundary change for the Kaitoke subdivision
- Half of the respondents (four) agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal. Two were neutral and two disagreed.
- There were no comments provided in response to this.
Existing subdivisions and member allocations for the Rural Community Board
Six submissions (76%) either strongly agreed or agreed with retaining all other existing representation arrangements in the rural area. Two were neutral and two did not answer this question.
There were no comments specifically provided in relation to this.
What is our final proposal?
All submissions were considered by the Statutory Management Committee and hearings were provided at public meetings held on 15 August 2018. Recommendations were then made to Council. These recommendations were that the initial proposal remain unchanged.
Council adopted its final proposal at its meeting on 11 September 2018. There were no changes made for the final proposal.
Reasons for the final proposal
The reasons for this decision (and not making changes as suggested in some submissions) are as follows:
The majority of survey respondents and submissions supported the initial proposal and believe that it will provide fair and effective representation.
The existing structure works well and we are satisfied that it will continue to serve the district successfully.
The non-compliance in the Whanganui subdivision is relatively minor - falling outside the allowable range by 165 people per Board member. Altering the Whanganui and Kaitoke subdivisions any more than is proposed would limit effective representation by potentially dividing people from their community of interest and possibly uniting communities with few commonalities.
The new subdivision arrangement might also provide stronger alignment for larger farming blocks within the more farming focused Whanganui subdivision.
Changing the name of the Rural Community Board provides consistency and accuracy in terms of the use of Whanganui.
We have previously considered whether to establish a Māori ward and have decided against it at this time given the effectiveness of Whanganui's current engagement model.
The Council intends to deliver a poll alongside the 2019 local government election. This will consider the number of councillors, the basis of election and the electoral system that we use. It will provide further opportunities for making representation arrangement changes in time for the 2022 election.
A thorough overview (including the benefits and disadvantages of the different 'basis of election' options) will be provided to support this poll.
Some other matters raised by submitters were not within the scope of the representation review.
As a result, the final proposal is as follows:
- Kai Iwi subdivision – Three members
- Whanganui subdivision – Two members
- Kaitoke subdivision – Two members
The population that each member will represent under this final proposal is as follows:
||Numbers of members
||Previous population/member ratio
*Note: these figures are based on a New Zealand Statistics estimate as of 30 June 2017
In accordance with section 19V(2) of the Local Electoral Act 2001 the population that each elected member represents must be within the population range of 819 +/- 10% (737 to 901). As the proposal for the Whanganui rural subdivision does not comply with section 19V(2), the final proposal must be treated as an appeal under section 19V(5) of the Local Electoral Act 2001 and referred to the Local Government Commission following the appeal period for determination.
Although the proposal for the Whanganui rural subdivision is not within the +/- 10% rule (sitting at -20.10%) it is considered that this arrangement is necessary to retain communities of interest and provide effective representation across the rural area.
Communities of interest
We have considered the representation needs of our district in the delivery of this review and believe that all communities of interest are effectively represented by our final proposal. In particular, our proposed changes in the rural area will ensure that our three communities of interest (Kai Iwi, Whanganui and Kaitoke) will be fairly and effectively represented.
What happens next?
Any person who made a submission on our initial proposal can lodge an appeal against this final proposal. The appeal must include what you wish to appeal, and must relate to your submission. As there has been no change between the Council’s initial proposal and the final proposal, no objections can be made.
The period to appeal closed at 5.00pm on Friday, 26 October 2018.
Next we will send our final proposal, all of the 10 submissions received, any appeals received, and some other information to the Local Government Commission. We need to do this because of our minor non-compliance with the population equality rule for the Whanganui rural subdivision.
This means that the Local Government Commission will make the final decision on what our representation arrangements will be.
The Commission must make their decision before 11 April 2019.