Local Government Commission Media Statement on Local Government Reorganisation

20 August 2013 Media Statement from the Local Government Commission: 

Alternative ideas for local government in Wairarapa and Wellington

Nineteen individuals, organisations and groups have responded to the call for alternative applications regarding local government reorganisation in Wairarapa and Wellington.

The Commission issued a public notice in July 2013 calling for alternative applications after Wairarapa district councils and the Greater Wellington Regional Council made separate reorganisation applications.  The deadline for alternatives was Friday 16 August.

The 19 responses are now being assessed by the Commission and are as follows:

  • 10 from private individuals
  • 4 from lobby or interest groups
  • 5 from Councils

The responses will now be considered alongside the original applications from the councils, and alongside the status quo arrangements.

The three Wairarapa councils want a unitary authority to cover Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa districts.  The council would include a mayor and twelve councillors elected from seven wards.  There would also be five community boards.

The proposed new council would assume the responsibilities and functions of the three existing district councils and of the Greater Wellington Regional Council in relation to the Wairarapa area.  It would also result in a small boundary change to part of Tararua District within the Wellington region, which would be transferred to the Manawatu-Wanganui Region.

Greater Wellington Regional Council wants a unitary authority covering the entire Wellington Region, including Wairarapa, but excluding a small part of Tararua District.  The council would have a mayor and 21 councillors elected from eight wards.  There would also be a second tier of eight local boards.

The proposed council would assume the responsibilities and functions of all district and city councils in Kapiti, Porirua, Wellington, the Hutt Valley, Wairarapa and of the regional council.

Background information: the process

The next stages of the process are as follows:

  • The Commission will consider alternative applications alongside the original applications and the existing arrangements (the status quo).
  • The Commission will consult widely as it works to identify reasonably practicable options for the affected area. One of these options must be the status quo.
  • The Commission will determine its preferred option. The preferred option must have regard to a local authority’s resources and communities of interest.
  • If it does not select the status quo as its preferred option, the Commission will prepare a draft proposal. It will publicly notify the draft proposal and call for public submissions.
  • It must also seek the views of affected local authorities, iwi and a range of statutory agencies, including the Auditor General; the Ministry for the Environment; the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment; Te Puni Kokiri, and Inland Revenue.
  • The Commission must consider each submission and may hold hearings and undertake further consultations before deciding whether to proceed.
  • If it does decide to proceed, the Commission will prepare a final proposal and will publicly notify it. A period of 60 working days will be allowed for responses, for example a petition to require a poll.
  •  A petition of 10% or more of affected electors in any one of the affected districts is able to trigger a poll.
  • If more than 50% of valid votes support the proposal, or if no poll is called for, the final proposal will be implemented and the proposed changes will take place. If the proposal attracts support from 50% or fewer of those voting, the reorganisation proposal will lapse.

In any event, no change will be made before the local authority elections on 12 October.

The legislation governing reorganisation of local authorities, Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002, can be accessed here. Guidelines on the reorganisation process are also available at www.lgc.govt.nz

There are five unitary authorities in New Zealand: Auckland, Gisborne, Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman. The Chatham Islands Council also effectively operates as a unitary authority.

Dated 20 August 2013

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