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Representation Review

Following our recent decision to establish Māori Wards, Council took a fresh look at how many elected members there are and what communities they represent across the district.

We sought feedback on our initial proposal from 20 July to 22 August. We considered all the submissions, including hearing from presenters at a hearing on 15 September, and have decided to proceed with the Council structure below. You can view the minutes of the hearing and the full Council decision here, and copies of all the original submissions are at the bottom of this page. 

This structure is the same as what we proposed in July/August, with the addition of an official name for the Māori Ward - Te Toa Horopū ā-Matamata-Piako. This was the name recommended by our Te Mana Whenua Forum, and aims to encourage Māori to participate in local elections. Horopū means staunch, steadfast, loyal, firm, dependable, and someone who is quick thinking and responsive.

We believe this structure ensures that Morrinsville, Matamata, Te Aroha, small rural townships, rural, and Māori (the clear communities of interest identified by the community in 2018) will be fairly represented at the Council table.

A bit more detail

One of the legal requirements is ensuring each Councillor represents roughly the same number of people in the district (known as the +/- 10% rule).

Under our proposed structure each Councillor should represent between 2,631 – 3,216 people. Matamata and Morrinsville Wards would be within this range, however, the Te Aroha Ward would be just outside this range (by 78 people per Councillor).

The number of people each Councillor represents is based on the official population statistics. It includes everyone that Councillors will represent (including children and unenrolled adults), not just those enrolled to vote. 

This is one of the reasons the Māori Ward councilor represents so many people compared to the General Ward councilors – there are 4,130 people in the district who identify as Māori, however, this candidate will be elected by the 1,881 people on the Māori Electoral Roll.

This difference also occurs (on a small scale) in the General wards  e.g.

  • Te Aroha Ward total population is 7,660, voted in by 5,519 people
  • Matamata Ward total population is 12,800, voted in by 9,234 people
  • Morrinsvlle Ward total population is 11,700, voted in by 8,454 people

All Elected Members, whether elected from General or Māori wards, represent the entire community.


Reasons for our final proposal

We received 40 submissions on the initial proposal, with 55% of those supporting the proposal. We also received some submissions seeking some changes but we have decided not to make changes for the following reasons: 

Change the general ward structure and boundaries – we believe the status quo effectively represents the district’s communities of interest, and aligns with the 2017 and 2012 representation reviews. 

Reduce the number of Councillors – for the current ward structure to comply with the +/- 10% rule, we would need to have a total of 9 Councillors (3 Matamata Ward, 3 Morrinsville Ward, 2 Te Aroha Ward and 1 Māori Ward). We believe this is too small for a governance body, and was only supported by 3 (or 7.5%) of submitters. 

Increase the number of Councillors - for the current ward structure to comply with the +/- 10% rule, we would need to have a total of 13 or 14 Councillors (5 Matamata Ward, 4 or 5 Morrinsville Ward, 3 Te Aroha Ward and 1 or 2 Māori Ward). At times (for example in 2016), we have struggled to get enough candidates to fill the existing 12 positions. Increasing the size of Council increases the risk there will be not enough candidates, triggering the need for a by-election at an extra cost. We felt that 13-14 Councillors would be too large, particularly when compared to other Councils with similar populations. 

Māori Ward – There were 7 submissions against having a Māori Ward, and 7 submissions wanting to have 2 Māori wards. Legally Council can’t reverse its earlier decision to establish a Māori Ward. We believe 1 Māori Ward balances the views of the community expressed in the submissions. 

Community Boards – one submission said we should reinstate community boards. We have decided not to establish any Community Boards as we believe the Councillors and Mayor can effectively represent the community without duplicating roles.

What happens next?

Anyone who made a submission on our initial proposal can lodge an appeal – appeals can only address matters raised in your original submission. Because we made a change to our initial proposal (by naming the Māori Ward), anyone can also object to Council’s decision - objections can relate to any aspect of the final proposal.

The appeal/objection period closed at 5pm 29 October 2021. This final proposal, the submissions, and any appeals and objections will be sent to the Local Government Commission, who will make the final decision before 11 April 2022.

Submissions on our initial proposal

Submitter NameDate
Wolfgang Faber2021-08-22 14:44:05View submission
Gisela G. Ludtke-Fabaer2021-08-22 14:37:09View submission
Margaret Osborne2021-08-18 16:16:21View submission
Pamela Gambrill2021-08-18 08:31:42View submission
Heath Tapper2021-08-18 00:42:04View submission
Carol Findlay2021-08-17 16:58:41View submission
Craig Johnson2021-08-17 16:03:00View submission
John ring2021-08-17 14:48:29View submission
Kevin Fisher 2021-08-17 14:11:26View submission
David G King2021-08-17 12:48:49View submission
Lyn McLoughlin 2021-08-17 12:28:22View submission
Debra Rodgerson2021-08-16 18:00:38View submission
Dolly Varden-Chambers2021-08-16 17:52:25View submission
Raymond Leslie Mettam2021-08-16 17:47:32View submission
Nicki Robb2021-08-16 17:47:13View submission