Waikato voters will elect 14 regional councillors from six general and two Maori constituencies at the 2013 local body elections following Waikato Regional Council’s review of its representation arrangements.
The Local Electoral Act requires councils to review how many councillors there should be and how they represent their communities at least every six years. In reviewing these arrangements, the council considered a range of options taking into account communities of interest and the provision of fair and effective representation.
After hearing submissions on its proposed boundary changes and following considerable debate, Waikato Regional Council yesterday confirmed it would reduce the number of general constituencies from eight to six, with 12 councillors, and establish two Maori constituencies with one councillor each.
The council considers the changes will encourage greater participation in local democracy, ensure fair and effective representation, and better align with both local councils and the regional council’s own river management zones.
A new general constituency called Waihou will be formed by joining Matamata-Piako, South Waikato and part of the North Waikato constituencies with the aim of better supporting river catchment management.
A new Taupo-Rotorua general constituency will be formed by joining parts of Rotorua district with Taupo.
A key challenge for the council is ensuring fair representation for people in smaller districts with declining populations.
Known as the ‘+/- 10 per cent rule’, fair representation is spelt out in the Local Electoral Act and dictates that the population of each constituency to the number of members to be elected in that constituency can be no more than 10 per cent greater or smaller than the population of the region divided by the total number of elected members.
This means each regional councillor represents a constituency of between 28,350 to 34,650 people. To achieve these population requirements, and align with local council boundaries, two or more districts have been combined to form a regional constituency in some cases.
The council will write to Local Government Minister David Carter to express concern about the implications of applying the +/- 10 per cent rule.
The northern Maori seat covering Hamilton city and Waikato district will be called Nga Hau e Wha (the four winds) while the Maori seat covering Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako, Waipa, Otorohanga, Waitormo, South Waikato and parts of Taupo and Rotorua districts will be called Nga Tai ki Uta (from coastal to inland).
Waipa-King Country General
Nga Hau e Wha Maori
Nga Tai ki Uta Maori
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