Finding the best way to represent our community has been a key focus for our council over the last few months, and on October 14 we finalised our proposal to be sent to the Local Government Commission.
If it’s approved, this would see a single Māori ward for the entire district, called Takitimu, an increase in the number of councillors from 14 to 15, and make some minor boundary changes to the existing five wards that otherwise will remain the same.
After we introduced Māori wards earlier this year, we were required to review our councillor structure to ensure all views and issues were considered, and that any proposal was fair for the individuals and communities of interest council represents across our large and diverse district.
There was strong community support for a Māori ward and the need for better representation of Māori around the council table, and we’ve been through a very thorough process to get to this point.
I want to thank those people that made submissions, which we considered carefully before adopting our final proposal.
In the submissions, concerns were raised about representation for Flaxmere where it’s proposed to have one rather than two councillors for this ward.
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 provides strong representation for Flaxmere through the ward councillor and the Takitimu ward councillors, for whom a third of their constituents live in Flaxmere, we still want to look at other options for a stronger voice for the suburb.
We will be investigating establishing a Flaxmere standing or subcommittee, and other opportunities for strengthening the representation and voice for the Flaxmere community, and have asked staff to come back with a recommendation in February next year.
Some submitters also raised the importance of younger people entering local government as elected representatives.
This is a valid concern and we need to be looking at other ways to attract these candidates to local government and make it affordable and sustainable for them.
Conducting these reviews is very important and is never an easy process, but we think we have found a solution that will work for Hastings Heretaunga for the future, and most importantly for the first time in our district’s history, will include a strong Māori voice around the council table.
We now await the Local Government Commission’s decision due by April next year.
29 October 2021
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