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Three electoral basis options aired for Waitakere

9 November 2005

Three electoral basis options aired for Waitakere

The next step in Waitakere City Council’s review of its electoral system is to decide whether the city will have three or four Wards in future elections.

Changes have to be made to the Ward system because under new electoral rules, Waitakere Ward does not have a big enough population to elect three Councillors.

The choices the Council has to address this are: to change the boundaries but retain four Wards including a rural Ward with a lower number of Councillors than presently represent Waitakere Ward or; change the boundaries of existing wards to increase the population in Waitakere Ward; change the number of wards; do away with wards altogether or; have some councillors elected from wards and some elected city wide.

The Council’s Finance and Operational Performance Committee is proposing to discuss three options with the public, through an informal community information process that will run from now until late February. Then in March 2006 the Council will to select one option to go forward for formal public consultation.

The review of the city’s electoral system (which must be completed before the next Council elections), is required by the Electoral Act 2001. It will establish the “Basis for Election” as required under the Act.

To establish the Basis for Election, the Council must create wards that have a “community of interest” based on common characteristics that help define a community. For example, it can be transport services, the stream catchment patterns, landscape features, the way land is used, etc.

“Identifying communities of interest helps to ensure effective, fair representation of Waitakere’s diverse communities. Therefore, the electoral boundaries must be based on the rationale that best recognises communities of interest,” says Councillor Clews

The three options the Council will advance for discussion, (in no particular order) are:

Integrated landuse, transport and landscapes

This option proposes three wards and three community boards, with a mixture of urban and rural territory and a town centre in each. There would still be 14 councillors plus the Mayor and each community board would have six elected members, plus up to three Councillors.

The Northern Ward with four Councillors would extend from Bethells/Te Henga to Hobsonville and Whenuapai and include Swanson, Ranui, Massey and West Harbour.

The Central Ward with five Councillors would extend from Piha, Karekare, Te Atatu Peninsula and include Western Heights / Sturges Rd, the Bruce McLaren area, Henderson, Lincoln, and Te Atatu South

The Southern Ward would extend from Whatipu, Huia, Laingholm, Glen Eden and New Lynn and include to Titirangi, Oratia and Glendene, (five Councillors).

“This three-Ward option reflects the ‘mixed’ nature of the city as a whole, ensuring reasonable representation of communities across the City, with each of the three Wards having a ‘stake’ in the Ranges,” says Finance and Operational Performance chair Councillor Janet Clews.

“A study of communities of interest shows that landscapes, form the natural boundaries of communities while having both urban and rural parts included, will require town dwellers and rural communities to be more aware of each other,” she says.

Modifying the Current Wards

This four-Ward option involves transferring Ranui from Massey Ward to Waitakere Ward. While this would give Waitakere the population to keep three Councillors it would not necessarily solve communities of interest issues at the border between Waitakere, Massey and Henderson Wards.

These issues include:

- People would prefer the Bruce McLaren Road and Sturges Road areas to be in Henderson Ward, rather than split between Henderson and Waitakere wards.
- Meanwhile in the Lincoln Road area there is a preference to be in the Henderson Ward rather than the Massey Ward.

“Transferring Ranui to the Waitakere Ward without considering these boundary issues could be challenged through the Local Government Commission. This would in turn lead to the Commission imposing its own solution on the Council,” says Councillor Clews.

Modified Land Use

The four-Ward Modified Land Use option uses land use as the basis for describing the proposed communities of interest. The number of Councillors per Ward would vary, according to population, from two to five, with the total unchanged at 14 (plus the Mayor).

The four Wards would be made up of communities circling the three main town centres plus a rural ward including Titirangi and Swanson within its boundary.

“Modifying the City’s existing Ward boundaries this way, would help align existing community associations not catered for under the present system,” says Councillor Clews.

“Whenuapai-Hobsonville fits better as a part of the northern suburbs (Massey/West Harbour) area, rather than with the Waitakere Ranges and foothills,” she says.

Ranui would be attached to either Massey or Henderson while following a natural boundary – such as a stream - would be the most logical choice when dividing Henderson and Massey.

Basis for Election provisional timescale:

To 28 February – Information flow and feedback process
15 March 2006 - Council votes on initial proposal
24 March 2006 - Public notification
24 April 2006 – Submissions close
5 – 19 May 2006 -Submissions hearings
19 May 2006 - Council votes on final proposal
11 April 2007 – Last date for Local Government Commission to make final Determination

ENDS

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