Representation review final proposal adopted

21 Aug 2018

The Northland Regional Council (NRC) has now adopted its final proposal for representation arrangements in Northland; effectively opting only to ‘fine-tune’ sweeping changes implemented after its last review in 2012.

Legally, the council must do a review every six years, giving the public the chance to comment on issues including the number of constituencies and their names, where their boundaries should be and the number of regional councillors.

(The potential establishment of Maori constituencies was considered – and ruled out – last year under a separate legally-required revision and does not form part of this latest review.)

Deputy Chairman David Sinclair says the 2012 review had resulted in extensive changes, including the council expanding the number of its constituencies from three large to seven smaller ones and boosting councillor numbers from eight to nine.

In contrast, the changes this time were effectively a fine-tuning exercise, including moving the Coastal South constituency boundary south (to match the Whangarei District Council’s current Mangakahia/Maungatapere ward boundary) and essentially transferring the Maungatapere, Kokopu and Whatatiri areas into the neighbouring Coastal North constituency. 

Councillor Sinclair says this was done as legally the NRC needs to make sure each of its councillors represents roughly the same number of people. 

“The change cuts Coastal South’s growing population from 22,980 people to 17,760, bringing it into line with councillor-to-population ratios in other parts of Northland.” 

He says the council also agreed to shift the boundary of its most northerly constituency, Te Hiku, so communities around Mangonui Harbour are in the same constituency. 

“We’ve also agreed to adjusting the Whangarei Urban boundary slightly so the semi-rural area in the north-west becomes part of Coastal North constituency and alter the boundary between Coastal Central and Coastal North slightly to cater for expected future population growth.”

Councillor Sinclair says there were only a handful of submissions on the council’s proposed changes, including one asking the council to shift the Oneriri Peninsula from its current Kaipara Constituency into Coastal South.

The submission – which had been carefully considered by councillors – was based on the submitter’s belief those living on the peninsula identified with Kaiwaka as the peninsula was separated from Maungaturoto (and the rest of Kaipara) by water.

“Their argument was that they could not travel there by land without passing through the Coastal South constituency.”

Councillor Sinclair says there was no easy solution to either the proposal to make the requested change or retain the status quo.

In the end council had opted for the status quo, influenced by the fact that measured against the NRC’s regional boundary, the peninsula was more closely linked to Kaipara Harbour.

“Another key factor was that moving the 650 people involved would have meant both the Coastal South and Kaipara constituencies would then have fallen outside the councillor-to-population ratios found in other parts of Northland.” 

A month-long appeal period is now in place where anyone who made a submission on the council’s ‘Representation Review 2018 Initial Proposal’ can lodge an appeal.  All appeals must reach the council by 4pm Wednesday, 26 September 2018.