Local Government Commission Chair Sir Wira Gardiner says the fate of a final proposal for a combined Wairarapa District Council lies in the hands of the Wairarapa public.
“The commission is confident that the final proposal it has released today will have many advantages for the Wairarapa in capturing opportunities now and meeting the challenges of the future,’’ Gardiner says.
“There is strong support across the Wairarapa for the proposal.
“Whether it goes ahead or not is now up to the Wairarapa, which can call for a poll.
“A simple majority will determine the outcome.’’
Under the proposal the three existing Wairarapa councils – South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton District Councils – would be combined into one medium-sized local authority, the Wairarapa District Council.
Regional council functions in the district would continue to be carried out by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Gardiner says that he and his fellow commissioners had reached their decision after careful deliberation.
“The commission has listened to local government leaders, councillors, iwi, business leaders, the rural sector, community leaders and residents from all walks of life throughout the Wairarapa,’’ he says.
“We have also considered expert evidence, and conducted independent surveys to seek a range of views from across the district.’’
Gardiner explains that the commission had been assisted in reaching its decision by all the people who had engaged in the reorganisation process over the past two years.
This included those who had attended public meetings, drop-in centres or information stands, others who had made written submissions or spoken at a hearing, or simply read and commented on the commission’s materials.
“It is obvious to us that many in the Wairarapa care passionately about local governance, and I’d like to pay particular tribute to those whose robust and thoughtfully composed opposing submissions challenged us to consider the evidence carefully.
“We have done so and are convinced the final proposal will deliver better local government for the Wairarapa including strong democratic local decision-making, cost-effective infrastructure and efficient services.
“We are happy now to hand it over the Wairarapa people – who we fully expect will want to have the final say by requesting a poll.
“We encourage the community to exercise its democratic rights in this respect. This is your chance to shape the future of your district and your community.’’
The proposals in brief
- A new council is proposed, called Wairarapa District Council. It would replace the existing three district councils: South Wairarapa District Council, Carterton District Council and Masterton District Council.
- The new council would have a mayor and 12 councillors. The mayor would be elected by voters across the Wairarapa district and councillors would be elected by voters in seven wards, including two rural wards.
- There would be five community boards: Featherston, Martinborough, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton. Each board would have four or five elected community board members representing the respective wards.
- For at least its first term, the new council would be required to have a rural standing committee and a Māori standing committee as a means of promoting effective council representation for rural communities, and marae, hapū and iwi respectively.
- The new Wairarapa District Council would be a territorial authority. The Wairarapa would remain part of the Wellington region with the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) continuing its current roles and responsibilities. There would be a new Wairarapa Committee of the GWRC to strengthen Wairarapa input into regional council issues affecting the district.
- For at least five years, the new council would be required to maintain area offices in Martinborough, Carterton and Masterton. Staff would continue to be located in the area offices to ensure people can access council services across the Wairarapa. The address for service (“principal office’’), for the new council would be Masterton.
- If electors request a poll (see guidelines below) and if a simple majority supports the proposal, the new Wairarapa Council could be elected in late 2018, at the earliest, and would serve an initial four-year term.
Copies of the final proposal are available at www.lgc.govt.nz and will be available for viewing at council offices and libraries.
Copies are also available on request to the Local Government Commission at [email protected]; or by phoning 04 460 2228.