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Council To Seek Legislative Change To Enable Preferred Representation Model To Be Adopted

As part of the Your Choice – 2022 Representation Review, Rotorua Lakes Council will be seeking legislative change to enable a preferred representation model to be adopted at the earliest possible time.

Council’s preferred model for best representing the needs of Rotorua in accordance with the principles of the Local Government Act and the Treaty of Waitangi, is not permitted under current legislation.

Therefore, at the full Council meeting today, elected members have voted in favour of instructing the Chief Executive to pursue the necessary statutory reforms, or other means, by which the preferred model can be adopted by Council at the earliest possible time, including if possible, prior to the 2022 local election.

The preferred model Council is seeking to adopt is as follows:

· 1 Mayor elected at large

· 1 Māori Ward with 3 seats

· 1 General Ward with 3 seats

· 4 “At large” seats

· A Rotorua Lakes Community Board

· A Rural Community Board

This model is deemed to best represent the needs of the Rotorua community and addresses a number of the key themes that emerged throughout consultation (achieving equality/parity, recognising the Treaty of Waitangi and Rotorua Township (Fenton) Agreement, co-governance, and equal suffrage).

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says legislative change to enable a model that better represents the needs of Rotorua will be sought as quickly as possible.

“It is disappointing that current legislation has meant we were unable to adopt our preferred representation model today. However we have adopted an interim model, that regardless of electorate roll, gives everyone the same number of votes.

“We will now pursue legislative change to get a local bill in place so we can adopt a model that really better represents what the community needs, and what they have told us they want.

“The electoral system in Rotorua should honour the Fenton Agreement and it should meet the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“There has been tension and hurt during this process. Our Te Arawa partnership board has struggled to get to this point, but ultimately we want the same outcome, and we want to support them to achieve more than one seat within the Māori Ward.

“We’ve ended up with an unusual model, struggling with a formula we’re required to use but doesn’t really fit what Rotorua needs today.

“A local bill through parliament will be our best option to get the preferred model and we’ll be looking to act on this as quickly as possible.”

Council was advised by the Local Government Commission that the preferred model wouldn’t be permitted under the Local Electoral Act (LEA). It is considered unlawful because it does not follow the formula for allocating seats to each ward as set out in Schedule 1A of the LEA. (For an explanation of the formula see section 5.2.2, page 16 of the full report that went to the Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee this week).

Council will now seek to enable the preferred model to be adopted via other means, potentially by way of a Local Bill.

During the meeting, a new motion was put forward by Cr Yates and received support from the majority of Councillors. In addition to seeking legislative change, the Council also agreed to:

· Confirm its commitment and ongoing support for Māori wards as made by Council on 21 May 2021

· Affirm that voters on the Māori electoral roll should not be permanently locked into a minority and should have equal opportunity as those on the general roll to vote for a Council they consider will best represent their interests (voter parity)

· Affirm the electoral system for Rotorua should honour the Rotorua Township Agreement (1880) and meet the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Council was bound by legislative constraints to adopt a representation model today (Friday 19 November 2021). So while acknowledging that the ideal representation model is the one outlined above, to meet the requirements of the Local Electoral Act, in a split vote decision, Council has adopted the following interim representation model:

· 1 Mayor elected at large

· 1 Māori Ward with 1 seat

· 1 General Ward with 1 seat

· 8 “At large” seats

· A Rotorua Lakes Community Board

· A Rural Community Board

It was noted that this interim model falls short of Council’s preferred model, however preserves the principles of voter parity, a key theme emerging through consultation, and is legally compliant with the formula set out in the LEA.

While this model achieves parity between the Māori Ward and the General Ward, it reduces the number of available seats in the wards to 1 each, and increases the ‘at large’ seats to 8. This is the only formulation that can achieve parity between the wards in a manner which is legally compliant.

Voting

The detailed motion the Committee has voted in favour of is as follows:

The following motion was put forward:

Moved: Cr Yates
Seconded: Cr Raukawa-Tait

The Chair ruled that each item be voted on separately.

That Council;

1. Confirm its commitment and ongoing support for a Māori ward as made by Council on 21 May 2021.

Moved: Cr Yates
Seconded: Cr Raukawa-Tait

CARRIED

2. Affirm that voters on the Māori electoral roll should not be permanently locked into a minority and should have equal opportunity as those on the general roll to vote for a Council they consider will best represent their interests (voter parity)

Moved: Cr Yates
Seconded: Cr Raukawa-Tait

CARRIED

  1. Affirm the electoral system for Rotorua should honour the Rotorua Township Agreement (1880) and meet the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Moved: Cr Yates
Seconded: Cr Raukawa-Tait

CARRIED

  1. a. Agree that the ideal representational model for Rotorua would comprise;

· 1 Mayor elected at large

· 1 Māori ward with 3 seats (Te Ipu Wai Taketake ward)

· 1 General ward with 3 seats (Te Ipu Wai Auraki ward)

· 4 “At large” seats

· A Rotorua Lakes Community Board

· A Rural Community Board

b. Note that the preferred model (see 4a above) is not currently enabled under the current Local Electoral Act, Council instructs the Chief Executive to pursue the necessary statutory reforms, or other means, by which the preferred model can be adopted by Council at the earliest possible time, including if possible, prior to the 2022 election.

Moved: Cr Yates
Seconded: Cr Raukawa-Tait

CARRIED

5. a. Notwithstanding 4 above, for the purposes of meeting the requirements of the Local Electoral Act agree an interim representation model comprising;

· 1 Mayor elected at large

· 1 Māori ward with 1 seat (Te Ipu Wai Taketake ward)

· 1 General ward with 1 seat (Te Ipu Wai Auraki ward)

· 8 “At large” seats

· A Rotorua Lakes Community Board

· A Rural Community Board

b. Note that the interim model (see 5a above) falls short of Council’s preferred model however preserves the principles of voter parity (see 2 above)

Division noted:

For: Mayor Chadwick, Cr Maxwell, Cr Donaldson, Cr Yates, Cr Raukawa-Tait, Cr Wang

Against: Cr Macpherson, Cr Bentley, Cr Tapsell, Cr Kumar, Cr Kai Fong


Moved: Cr Yates
Seconded: Cr Raukawa-Tait

CARRIED


Next steps – Objections/appeals

An objection or appeal may be lodged by any person or organisation if the Council’s final decision on representation arrangements differs from its initial proposal. Any objection must identify the matters to which the objection relates.

Objections and appeals will be forwarded to the Local Government Commission (LGC).

If objections or appeals are made, the LGC will make a final determination on Rotorua Lakes Council’s representation arrangements in April 2022.

Objections must be made in writing and must be received by council no later than 20 December 2021.


Objections can be sent to:

· Rotorua Lakes Council, Attention – Rick Dunn

· Post – Rotorua Lakes Council, Civic Centre, 1061 Haupapa Street, Rotorua 3010

· Email – submission@rotorualc.nz

· Hand deliver – Rotorua Lakes Council, Customer Service Centre, Civic Centre, 1061 Haupapa Street, Rotorua

For further information regarding the Your Choice - 2022 Representation Review visit https://letstalk.rotorualakescouncil.nz/your-choice-2022-representation-review

Today’s meeting was livestreamed and you can view a full recording of the meeting at THIS LINK on Council’s YouTube channel.
You can view the Agenda for today’s meeting HERE.

Links to other related documents:
Report to Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee on 16 November 2021
Presentation to Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee on 16 November 2021
Attachment 1 - Report to SPF 26 August 21- Adopt initial proposal.pdf
Your Choice - 2022 Representation Review - Initial Proposal.pdf

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