29/05/2019 10:00:00 a.m.
29 May 2019
No major changes have been made to the way Whanganui District Council represents the district, after community consultation on a ‘representation review’ in June 2018.
For the time being, the Council will continue to be made up of a mayor and 12 councillors who are elected by Whanganui District as a whole, as opposed to a ward system.
However, minor changes will be made to the Rural Community Board, which represents and advocates for the rural sector of Whanganui.
The first change is to include the ‘h’ in the spelling of ‘Whanganui’ in the board’s name to reflect the spelling of the in line with the name of the district.
The second is small adjustments of boundaries for Kaitoke and Kai Iwi subdivisions to make sure people are more evenly represented by elected members on the Board.
Every six years, all Councils must review how they represent the community and ask for public feedback. Whanganui District Council received 10 submissions on the representation review. Eight submissions responded to questions about the proposed community board arrangements. The majority of these supported the proposed change, one was neutral and two opposed the proposal.
Whanganui District Council adopted the proposal it put out for consultation on 11 September 2018. An appeal period was provided and no appeals were received. This proposal was then sent to the Local Government Commission to determine the final representation arrangements for the district. This determination, which upheld the Council’s representation decisions, was released on 11 April 2019.
Voters will have another opportunity to have their say on representation through a poll as part of the local body elections in October 2019.
Stephanie Macdonald-Rose, Policy and Governance Manager, says the representation review provided a taster of what the community thought about their representation by elected members in the Whanganui District, but she says the poll will delve further.
The poll will ask which system voters prefer, Single Transferable Vote or First Past the Post. Voters will also be asked how many councillors they would like and whether a ward system is appealing.
“It’s important that everyone who can vote is on the electoral role so they can vote for their preferred mayor and councillors but also so they can have a say on how people are elected and what systems are used. The results of the poll will be considered by the new 2019 Council and any changes would be put in place by 2022,” says Ms Macdonald-Rose.