Time running out to have say on representation review

17 Jul 2018

Time is running for the public to have a say on a proposed 'fine-tuning' of the Northland Regional Council's (NRC) representation arrangements.

An almost 20 percent population growth in popular coastal areas south of Whangarei over the past several years is one of several factors driving the latest review, which the council must legally carry out every six years.

The council began calling for public comment on the on the proposed changes last month and people have until 4pm on Tuesday 24 July to give their feedback.

Among issues people can submit on are the number of constituencies and their names, where their boundaries should be and the number of regional councillors.

The latest proposed changes are nowhere near as extensive as the last (2012) review when the council expanded the number of its constituencies from three large to seven smaller ones and boosted councillor numbers from eight to nine.

The council says this time, the proposed changes are essentially 'fine-tuning' to account for population growth and better reflect current communities going forward.

(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.)

Population changes over the past six years – especially in the Coastal South constituency, which includes the popular coastal settlements of Ruakaka, Waipu/Waipu Cove, Langs Beach and Mangawhai Heads – have driven some of the biggest proposed changes.

While overall the council is keen to retain the same number of constituencies (seven) and councillors (nine), given the growth in Coastal South since 2012, it's proposing to make that constituency smaller.

Legally the NRC needs to make sure each of its councillors represents roughly the same number of people and its suggested change would cut Coastal South's population from 22,980 people to 17,760, bringing it into line with councillor-to-population ratios elsewhere in the region.

To do this, it's proposing moving Coastal South's boundary south (matching 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.

Elsewhere in Northland, the regional council is also suggesting:

  • Shifting the boundary of Te Hiku (its most northerly constituency) so communities around Mangonui Harbour are in the same constituency
  • Adjusting the Whangarei Urban boundary slightly so the semi-rural area in the north-west becomes part of Coastal North constituency and
  • Adjusting the boundary between Coastal Central and Coastal North slightly to cater for expected future population growth.

Any changes resulting from the review will be in place in time for the next local authority elections late next year.

The full Representation Review 2018 Initial Proposal is available online at: www.nrc.govt.nz/RepReview

Feedback can be provided online though either the council's online feedback portal via www.nrc.govt.nz/RepReview or by emailing: submissions@nrc.govt.nz

Hard copy submissions can be dropped off to any regional council office or posted to:

Representation Review 2018,
Northland Regional Council
Private Bag 9021
Whangarei Mail Centre
Whangarei 0148