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Proposal for HDC representation arrangements confirmed

Council Meeting

After considering submissions, Hastings district councillors today confirmed a proposal for council’s representation arrangements ahead of the 2022 local body elections.

A representation review was required after council decided to introduce Māori wards, and formal submissions were called for on an initial proposal to install a single Māori ward across the entire district, called Takitimu, increase the number of councillors to 15, and make some minor boundary changes to the existing five wards that otherwise will remain the same.

The council would be made up of the Mayor, and 12 councillors elected from a slightly modified version of the existing five general wards structure (Flaxmere 1, Hastings-Havelock North 7, Heretaunga 2, Kahurānaki 1 and Mohaka 1), and three councillors elected from the newly created Takitimu Māori ward.

 With the introduction of the Māori ward, and reallocation of voters from the General Electoral Roll to the Māori Electoral Roll, councillor numbers for the Hastings-Havelock North ward would be reduced from eight to seven, and in Flaxmere from two to one.

The Hastings District Rural Community Board would be retained and made up of seven members, four elected members (Tutira 1, Kaweka 1, Maraekākaho 1, and Poukawa 1), and three appointed councillor members, one from the Mohaka Ward, one from the Kahurānaki Ward, and one from among those elected to represent the Takitimu Ward.

Paramount to formulating the proposal and number of councillors was the requirement to identify communities of interest within the district, and how to ensure they were fairly and effectively represented.

Just over 150 submissions were received with a number in favour, while others raised concerns about whether there was adequate representation for Flaxmere, and others seeking to reduce councillors numbers overall.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said this review was all ensuring all views and issues were considered, and that any proposal was fair for individuals and communities of interest council represents across a large and diverse district.

“Council has gone through a very thorough process to get to this point, ensuring we have captured community views along the way.

“There was strong community support for a Māori ward and the need for better representation of Māori around the council table.

“We have had very good submissions from our community that we have considered carefully to get to this final proposal.”

She noted the concerns raised about representation for Flaxmere.

“Our council is very committed through our Long Term Plan to make ongoing investments into Flaxmere, this is embedded in our planning and policy across housing, facilities and parks.

“We also have a passionate Flaxmere Planning Committee who are dedicated to implementing these plans for Flaxmere.”

While the proposal provided strong representation for Flaxmere through the ward councillor and the Takitimu ward councillors, for whom a third of their constituents live in Flaxmere, council was keen to look at other options for a stronger voice for the suburb.

At today’s meeting council agreed to investigate establishing a Flaxmere standing or subcommittee, and include additional opportunities for strengthening representation and voice for the Flaxmere community.

This was a matter outside of the representation review and a recommendation on this would come back to council in February 2022.

Mrs Hazlehurst also noted submitters’ comments that it was important to have younger people entering local government as elected representatives.

“We need to be looking at other ways to attract these candidates to local government and make it affordable and sustainable for them.”

Having 15 councillors was nothing new for Hastings, she added, as there had been 15 seats around the table in the past.

“It was important that we listened to our Māori community who told us clearly they want three seats in a Māori ward.”

With the adoption of this final proposal, any person or organisation that made a submission to the initial proposal would now be able to lodge an appeal against the Council’s final proposal relating to matters raised in their submission.

This must be done between October 20 and November 20.

 The final proposal, along with any appeals and objections will be submitted to the Local Government Commission before January 15, 2022.  The Local Government Commission considers resolutions, submissions, appeals and objections and makes a determination before April 11, 2022.

 If no-one appeals the final proposal, it will still be submitted to the Local Government Commission because some of the ward arrangements proposed fall outside of the +/-10% range for the average population per councillor.

14 October 2021

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