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Councillors Decide Kāpiti Local Body System To Stay Similar To Status Quo

Kāpiti Coast District will keep a local democracy system similar to that in place now, but with a new community board to represent Raumati, making five community boards in total. It keeps the current four wards.

Mayor Gurunathan said councillors were pleased with the high level of interest in the consultation on the district’s democratic system and had taken community feedback onboard. They made significant changes to the inital proposal to something close to the status quo, keeping four wards but increasing the number of community boards to five to give Raumati its own representation, he said.

“The themes from the feedback reiterated what we were told in our early research for the review. People want distinct voices to be heard, including Māori voices. They want distinct suburbs recognised. They want more accessible and representative democracy.

“People question the need for change, and want ways of ensuring Council staff and elected members are accountable.”

The final proposal is four wards (Ōtaki, Waikanae, Paraparaumu and Paekākāriki-Raumati) and five community boards (Ōtaki, Waikanae, Paraparaumu, Raumati and Paekākāriki). It retains the mixed model of the mayor plus 10 councillors. Five councillors will represent the four wards (with two in Paraparaumu due to its larger population), and five councillors will be districtwide.

The final proposal accepts the slight adjustments to ward boundaries outlined in the initial proposal. Te Horo from Te Hapua Road will shift into the Ōtaki Ward and the Paekākāriki-Raumati Ward boundary moves north to the corner of Wharemaku Road and Marine Parade. The wards retain their current names.

Mayor Gurunathan said the Local Government Commission will still have to make the final decision on Kapiti’s 2021 Representation Review as the final proposal doesn’t comply with the fair representation rule. Ōtaki is over-represented by 12% and Waikanae under-represented by 24.78% in the final proposal adopted by councillors.

“Our challenge now as a Council is to work out how we can do better at reaching those in our community who are not engaged, and who may even feel actively disenfranchised by the current system.

“We must also address how we make Council more accountable, perhaps by strengthening community boards to ensure they are more effective. We received suggestions on a range of ways we could achieve this such as changes to delegated functions, funding, support, accessibility, voting rights, and improving the capability of board members,” he said.

Council would need to do more work to determine what was feasible before the local body elections in September 2022, or what they could recommend to the incoming council after those elections, Mayor Gurunathan said.

Council received submissions from 510 individuals and 22 organisations. Councillors spent almost two days hearing oral submissions.

Māori representation was out of scope of this consultation on mana whenua’s advice, but would likely be included next time, Mayor Gurunathan said.

The final proposal will be notified in the newspaper and is open to appeals or objections until 13 December. It will then go to the Local Government Commission for a decision by 11 April 2022.

The full council report is at kapiticoast.govt.nz/meetings. The minutes will be published there as soon as possible after the meeting.

See kapiticoast.govt.nz/representation-review for background on the 2021 Representation Review.

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