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20/08/2018 11:50am

Following feedback from the community, the Council has amended its initial proposal which was to reduce the number of councillors in the District. Its amended proposal is to retain the status quo, which is to have one mayor (elected by the whole district) and 12 councillors; four representing the Paeroa ward, four representing the Waihi Ward and four representing the Plains Ward, with no community boards.

Feedback taken on board

“The overarching view of those who gave us their feedback was that a reduction in numbers from 12 to 9 councillors would not meet the representation needs of our communities, so we’ve taken that on board,” says Mayor John Tregidga.

Every six years the Council has to look at the number of councillors and wards in the district. This is to make sure there are the right amount of people around the council table to fairly and effectively represent the number of people that live in each community. The Council also has to decide whether it should have community boards.

“The possibility of bringing back community boards was raised in the feedback, but there is absolutely no appetite from Council to go down this road,” says Mayor Tregidga,

“We used to have community boards but they eventually disbanded themselves. Now we have ward working parties made up of the elected members from each ward that essentially do what community boards would do if we had them.”

The other issue raised is that, based on the updated estimates from the 2013 census, the population of the Waihi Ward is very slightly over the allowable range (by approximately 69 people), meaning it could potentially have an extra councillor compared to the other two wards. However, the Mayor says that in the Council’s view the numbers are too small to really justify an extra person for Waihi.

“Some of the feedback we received was that there is a case for an extra councillor in Waihi due to unique challenges and opportunities in the town, but we feel strongly that all our wards face future challenges and opportunities in different ways, it’s the nature of our times,” the Mayor said.

Status quo recommended

“The proposal to continue with an even number of councillors across all wards reflects the current council's view of Hauraki as `one district’. While invested in representing the people in their own wards, our councillors are also interested in working together on the bigger picture - what’s best for the entire district as a whole.”

At this stage the amended proposal is just a recommendation. It will be ratified at the 29 August Council meeting, after which there will be a one-month appeal/objection period inviting further feedback from the community.

However, as the amended proposal will likely fall just outside the allowable population range for one ward, the matter is required to go to the Local Government Commission to make the final decision on how it thinks our councillor numbers and wards should look for the next two elections.