Regional council election nominations opening soon

People keen to make a difference and help continue to make Te Taitokerau a great place to live are being urged to consider running for a seat on the Northland Regional Council at this year’s local body elections.

In a change from previous elections, this year will be notable because as proposed it will see voters elect a nine-strong council that will include two Māori councillors representing Te Raki, a new regionwide Māori constituency.

Chair Penny Smart says the proposed changes have yet to be formally signed off by the Local Government Commission but include a specific Māori constituency which is designed to ensure Māori are at the decision-making table itself when the new council takes office later this year.

She says as proposed seven general councillors will be elected from seven general constituencies (one from each) and two Māori councillors elected from the region-wide Māori constituency (Te Raki), the latter with an electoral population of approximately 48,000.

The general constituencies will be Far North, Coastal Central, Coastal South, Kaipara, Mid North, Whangārei Central and Bay of Islands-Whangaroa.

Aside from the Te Raki constituency, which only those on the Māori electoral roll can vote for, other proposed key changes from the current model are:

The proposed Whangārei Central general constituency is smaller and confined to the city centre. There will be a single councillor (instead of the current two) recognising that people living in Whangārei have easy access to the council’s main office, services and councillors unlike some more remote parts of the region

The outer fringes/suburbs of Whangārei are reflected in the surrounding constituencies

A new Mid North general constituency incorporating Hikurangi, Towai, Kawakawa and Moerewa to ensure these communities are well represented

A new general constituency specific to the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa area which has been identified as a clear community of interest and experiencing considerable growth.

The council says at its heart, the proposed changes are about how best to achieve fair and effective representation for Northlanders, within the legislative requirements councils are bound by.

Information for would-be candidates is expected to be released by the council in several months.