Council elects to keep status quo

The Local Electoral Act requires all local authorities to review their representation arrangements at least once every six years. The Hurunui District Council is currently undertaking this process and the representation arrangements decided on during this process will be used for the 2013 local body elections.

The Hurunui District Council believes that its current ward structure, with one Mayor and nine councilor positions, provide fitting representation for the diversity of communities within the district. As such, it has adopted the ‘status quo’ for its proposed district representation arrangements.

The decision does not technically comply with the requirements of the Local Electoral Act which requires an even distribution of population per councilor. In every ward except Hammer Springs, the population / councilor ratio meets the requirements. The Council’s decision does mean that the Hanmer Springs ward, its one councilor and the Community Board, would be retained. Alternatively, a way to comply would be to merge the Hanmer Springs ward with the previously amalgamated Amuri and Hurunui wards.

The council faced a similar situation in the 2007 representation review. The matter ended up being decided by Local Government Commissioners who felt that there were “sufficient commonalities of interest” between the Hurunui and Amuri wards to enable effective representation within a new combined ward area. At that stage, merging the formerly separate wards meant compliance with the population and councilor ratios.

The Hurunui District Council had reservations regarding this decision – but has even more concerns regarding the practicalities of potentially merging Hanmer Springs into the Amuri - Hurunui ward as well. The Council believe that the resulting disproportionately huge geographical area would be at risk of not being adequately represented – potentially future elected members could come from just one or two areas which would result in some communities not having a ‘local’ representative.

The Council believes that Hanmer Springs is a distinct community of interest and that the current rules do not adequately acknowledge the rights of absentee landowners and the infrastructure needed to support a greater population from tourism activities. The rules only apply to the numbers of permanent residents which understates the people impact on Hanmer Springs and the need for adequate representation.

What does the status quo look like?

• Five wards (Amberley, Amuri-Hurunui, Cheviot, Glenmark, Hanmer Springs)

• Nine councilors elected by wards (three in Amberley, three in Amuri-Hurunui, one in Cheviot, one in Glenmark, one in Hanmer Springs)

• One Mayor

• One Community Board (Hanmer Springs) with five elected members

• Four Ward/Community Committees (Amberley, Amuri, Cheviot, Hurunui)

The Council believes that the current number of councilors and wards is appropriate for the district and provides the right balance for the community.

The Council believes that councilors are accessible to their constituents and the residents’ satisfaction survey results support this view.

Submissions

The Council now invites submissions on this proposal.
Submissions close on Monday 11 June 2012
The Council will hear the submissions at their Council meeting on Thursday, 28 June.
You can submit online or download a submission form which can be emailed to us at submission@hurunui.govt.nz, dropped into any of our Libraries or service Centres or Posted to Submissions, PO Box 13, Amberley 7410.

After the Submission Period

After considering public submissions, the Council will publicly notify their final decision on 13 July 2012. By law, the Council must give any person no less than one month to lodge an appeal or objection to their final decision. Should anyone object, the Council must refer any objections to the Local Government Commission who will then consider those objections and appeals. In this case, the Commission will make the final determination (by 10 April 2013).

If there are no appeals or objections, the Council’s decision is final and the new representation arrangements will take effect from the next triennial local government elections to be held on 12 October 2013.

Further Information

To find out more information, contact your local councilor or Audrey van der Monde, Manager Community and Corporate Services on phone 03 3140012 or email: audrey.vandermonde@hurunui.govt.nz.