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Regional council holds decision on council seats

Regional council holds to decision on council seats

For immediate release: Wednesday 1 October 2003 Environment Bay of Plenty has stuck by its decision to have two Maori seats and 10 general seats on offer at next year’s local government elections.

Last week, after studying all the submissions, regional councillors voted to go with their original proposal, which will leave the total number of seats the same at 12. However, submitters still have a month to appeal, says Miles McConway, group manager human resources and corporate services. After that, the representation review will be referred to the Local Government Commission for final determination. Environment Bay of Plenty received 12 submissions on the subject. Several sought to introduce three Maori seats, instead of two, and to increase the overall number of council seats. Three submissions objected to having Maori seats, but this was “not up for review”, Mr McConway explains, as this had been decided on in 1998 and was legalised by Parliament in 2001.

Mr McConway says councillors decided their initial proposal of 12 members covering six constituencies (including two new Maori constituencies) was “the fairest and most balanced” option. The council had to “balance legal requirements and make compromises”, Mr McConway says. “But councillors felt this was the best option for achieving fairness of representation over the region’s communities of interest.”

Input from iwi representatives has guided the division of the region into two Maori constituencies, to be called Taimoana and Tuawhenua. They reflect the coastal and inland geographical locations of the region’s Maori population as well as the “communities of interest” of the two main Bay of Plenty waka, Te Arawa and Mataatua.

The Taimoana constituency includes the Tauranga harbour area and much of the eastern Bay of Plenty, excluding Kawerau. The Tuawhenua constituency runs from the western Bay of Plenty coastline (including Maketu and Otamarakau) through Rotorua to the region’s Taupo boundary. It also includes Kawerau.

If the proposal goes ahead, the regional council’s new general constituencies will continue to geographically match territorial authority boundaries. The make-up would be: Western Bay of Plenty (2 seats), Tauranga (4), Rotorua (2) and eastern Bay of Plenty (2). Currently, Rotorua and eastern Bay of Plenty each have three councillor representatives.

The next local government election will be held in October 2004. The new Maori seats will be voted on by residents whose names are on the parliamentary Maori rolls for general elections.

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