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12/04/2019 2:00pm

Hauraki District Council will have an extra councillor in the October local government election after a Local Government Commission representation review.

The number of councillors in the Waihi Ward will increase from four to five, while the Paeroa and Plains Wards will remain the same at four each, with no community boards.

Mayor John Tregidga said he was “surprised” at the commission’s decision.

“It surprises me that we are going to be one of the most over-represented councils in the country per head of population,” he said.

Initial proposal

Hauraki District Council had last year proposed to reduce the number of councillors in the district from 12 to nine because it had more councillors overall than most other councils in the country when population was taken into account.

A reduction in councillor numbers could also result in greater diversity around the Council table. As councillor’s salaries are paid as a percentage of a fixed overall pool, reducing numbers would mean councillors would earn a little more, which may have made it affordable for more people to consider standing.

However, after community feedback against reducing councillor numbers, council amended the proposal back to four per ward.

Commission decision

Because the four councillors fell just outside the allowable population range for the Waihi Ward, the Local Government Commission held a hearing in February to make the final decision.

For fair representation, the population of each ward divided by the number of members to be elected must be no more than 10 per cent greater or smaller than the population of the district divided by the total number of members.

In the commission’s determination, released on April 12, it said when applying 2017 population estimates, the Waihi Ward became non-compliant with 12 councillors at +10.99 per cent, while adding a fifth councillor in the Waihi Ward brought it to -3.81 per cent.

“Compliance would be achieved on both a 10-member council and a 13-member council,” the commission said.

“We are reluctant, however, to reduce the total number of councillors as this could be perceived as a reduction in the representation of the Plains and the Paeroa wards. We have therefore decided that the Hauraki District Council should have a total of 13 councillors.”

No community boards 

The commission also said it did not consider there was a sufficient argument for a Waihi Community Board or other community boards.

“We believe that existing mechanisms can deal adequately with the specific local needs faced by the ward, especially with the participation of an additional councillor.”

Local councils are required to review their representation arrangements at least every six years. Hauraki District Council last reviewed its representation prior to the 2013 elections.