2022 Residents’ Perception Survey results released


South Wairarapa District Council’s 2022 Residents’ Perception Survey results have been released and can be viewed on Council’s website.

The report was tabled at the Council meeting today, and Councillors noted that residents have been clear on what is working for them and where Council can make improvements to its leadership and to the services, infrastructure and facilities we provide.

Residents also told us that they were not satisfied with the Council’s leadership, and they rated our financial management very poorly. They did not think that the Mayor or Councillors were giving them a “fair hearing”.

The straightforward message in May 2022 was our residents did not trust us.

Residents continue to be highly satisfied with the facilities provided by the Council such as:

  • libraries (85%)
  • parks, reserves and open spaces (79%)
  • sports fields (78%)
  • playgrounds (76%).

Being able to maintain this result in the context of Covid-19 is a result to be proud of.

Mayor Martin Connelly said, “We are listening and taking action.”

“We know the rates increase set through our 2021-31 Long Term Plan process was not well received by many in our community and this is reflected in the results. We also acknowledge that it has been a challenging time with Covid-19 having an impact on services across the district, and severe weather events resulting in flooding and damage to residents’ properties.

“Local government elections late last year gave voters the opportunity to decide who they wish to have represent them. Voters exercised their right to make this decision through their votes and a new Council, with seven new members out of the 10, was sworn in on 26 October 2022. Community Boards have also experienced a significant shift of representation, and they have all expressed a clear commitment to advocate for their local communities.”

Public access to the Mayor and councillors was another complaint. People answering the survey did not think they were being listened to seriously. Mayor Connelly said, “We have taken steps to make ourselves much more accessible. This includes setting up regular opportunities for people to meet the Mayor and Councillors. The Mayor’s email address and phone number are easily accessible on Council’s website to all residents. I welcome your calls and emails.”

There have been significant changes in the leadership team within Council, with five of its seven members joining in the last 18 months. They bring a depth of experience and strengths from central government and private sector roles. Living locally means they have first-hand knowledge of what is working and what isn’t within our community, and this helps them understand the issues that communities are facing.

There were some groups of residents who expressed more unhappiness than most with the Council’s performance, particularly Māori and people living in the Featherston Ward.

The Council recognises it has considerable work to do to strengthen its relationship with Māori. It is taking steps to improve through clarifying and strengthening the role of the Māori Standing Committee. It has appointed a Principal Advisor Māori /Pou Māori, and will be conducting a representation review to make sure Māori can express their views on how they wish to be represented on Council.

There has been significant effort put into understanding the rating issues from the community’s perspective, and a range of communication has been put out to better explain it. A rating review is underway to review whether the current basis for charging rates is the best model for our district.

The Council recognises Featherston has had its fair share of issues; the Featherston wastewater project was not able to deliver as originally planned, the lack of stormwater control, the look of some of the buildings in the town centre, all of which affects people’s daily lives. This Council has long term plans for Featherston. Everyone should have their say through the Featherston Master Plan consultation and feedback sessions.

The Council appreciates the effort people took to provide honest feedback.

Mayor Connelly concluded “We have heard you loud and clear. Our top priority through 2023 will be regaining your trust and confidence”.

All documents can be found on the Council’s website www.swdc.govt.nz/reports

Media contact:
Sheil Priest, General Manager, Communications & Engagement
Mob: 027 252 2863
Email: media@swdc.govt.nz

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