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Are You Being Served? ORC Survey First Step Of Representation Review

‘Are you being served?’ is the question being asked by Otago Regional Council as a survey is launched seeking feedback on whether people feel they have fair and effective representation at the regional council table.

Chairperson Gretchen Robertson says, “The survey is the first step in a representation review which councils are required to do every six years under the Local Electoral Act.”

Population, communities of interest, the number of wards and ward boundaries as well as the number and distribution of elected members will all be considered before any potential changes are contemplated as part of an initial proposal to be decided on by Council by mid-2024 before being put to the public for consultation.

“The review will look at changes to population and any flow on impact on representation. This review will need to look at areas like the wider Dunstan area (Queenstown, Wanaka and Central Otago), where population growth means current representation may not be enough to meet legal requirements.”

We are currently seeking feedback for Council to consider while developing an initial proposal for wider consultation.

Council will make a decision on its initial representation proposal by May 2024, and submissions will be called for following that.

What is a representation review?

Every six years councils must review how communities are represented in the make-up of their council. A representation review looks at the structures in place, including:

  • the number of constituencies (electoral areas) and their boundaries
  • the number of elected members (councillors) representing each constituency
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The representation review cannot change the people who are currently elected but it may increase the number of councillors - 14 is the maximum number of councillors a regional council can have.

The last representation review for Otago Regional Council was completed in 2018. No changes were made to the existing constituencies or number of councillors.

Representation reviews require Council to look at three key concepts

  • Communities of interest: to identify what communities of interest exist across the district, which is relevant to determining the number and boundaries of constituencies
  • Effective representation of communities of interest: to identify what’s the best structure to maintain access and representation that recognises these communities of interest, which is relevant to determining the number of members
  • Fair representation of electors: to ensure that each councillor should represent roughly the same number of people, which is relevant for ensuring equality of representation per member.

We are asking for people’s views via a simple online survey https://www.orc.govt.nz/represent2024

Council is expected to make a decision on an initial representation proposal by May 2024, this will then be put to the public for submissions.

Current arrangements

The Otago Regional Council is made up of 12 Councillors, elected from four constituencies:

  • Dunstan 3
  • Moeraki 1
  • Molyneux 2
  • Dunedin 6

All constituencies are based on population ratios and communities of interests. The survey will be open from 9 February for a month.

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