Earlier this year, Council sought community feedback on the initial proposal (below) for how the community should be represented. Council considered the 195 submissions received on its initial proposal at a hearing (public meeting) on 15 August 2018 and decided on its final proposal (as required by the Local Electoral Act 2001). The initial proposal and background information is included below for your information - you can view the final proposal and find out about the appeals process here.
We are required by law to review our ‘representation arrangements’ at least every six years to ensure our community is fairly and effectively represented. This includes reviewing things like the number of Councillors and wards we have, whether each Councillor represents roughly the same number of people in the district, and whether we should have community boards.
What do we currently have?
We currently have one Mayor (who is elected by the whole district) and 11 Councillors - four representing the Matamata Ward, four representing the Morrinsville Ward and three representing the Te Aroha Ward. We do not have any community boards.
What are we proposing?
We’re proposing to stick with the same ward boundaries, number of Councillors, and to continue with no community boards for the next two Council elections. One of the legal requirements is ensuring each Councillor represents roughly the same number of people in the district (known as the +/- 10% rule). If we stick with the same number of Councillors, that means each Councillor should represent between 2,842 – 3,473 people in our district. Matamata and Morrinsville Wards are within this range, however, the Te Aroha Ward is just outside this range (by 99 people per Councillor).
Why are we proposing to retain the status quo?
Despite being slightly outside the required range, we believe that our current Council structure effectively represents our community. Councils can choose not to comply with the +/- 10% rule if they believe it would divide a community of interest or unite communities of interest with few commonalities. We think this applies in our case, because for the Te Aroha Ward to comply and stick with the same number of Councillors we would need to change the ward boundaries (i.e. shift some people who are currently in the Matamata and/or Morrinsville Wards into the Te Aroha Ward).
Based on the feedback the community gave us last year, we believe this would divide some people from their community of interest and will mean they have few commonalities of interest (e.g. they may work/shop/identify with Matamata or Morrinsville, but be required to vote for Te Aroha Councillors).
In addition to these criteria, we have also considered:
- In last year’s community survey, 84% of respondents told us that the ward they live in reflects their community of interest and 80% of respondents told us they think the current representation system fairly reflects their community.
- We only just fall outside the allowable range for the number of people per Councillor in the Te Aroha Ward (by 99 people per Councillor or 297 people overall for the Te Aroha Ward).
- Our current representation arrangements have been in place for many years and are familiar to the community.
- We no longer have community boards (which a number of other councils have, in addition to Councillors).
- We could comply with the +/- 10% rule by changing the ward boundaries, or increasing or decreasing the number of Councillors. However, our community have told us they believe the current representation works well, so we don’t believe these changes are required.
You can explore the possible options using this spreadsheet. The spreadsheet allows you to change the number of councillors or the ward populations to see what/how many people each Council would represent and whether this falls within the allowable range.
Read more about community boards (and why don't believe they're required for our district)
Communities of interest
We used last year’s community survey to identify if all the ‘communities of interest’ (the places people associate with) in the district are fairly represented. We have identified our three main towns, Morrinsville, Matamata and Te Aroha, small rural townships, rural, and Maori as our communities of interest. We believe that these are all effectively represented by what we are proposing.
Submissions on this initial proposal closed on 20 July 2018. Anyone who made a submission on this initial proposal may lodge an appeal on our final proposal - find out more here