Representation Review 2023-24

We’re reviewing how our communities are represented locally. This is called a representation review, and under the law we’re required to do this at least once every six years.

The purpose of a representation review is to make sure that the communities in our city are fairly and effectively represented at Council. The representation review looks at the structures we have in place, not the people who are currently elected.

Our last representation review was in 2018. Our review needs to look at these factors:

  • The total number of councillors we have
  • Whether we have wards, and if so, the review must also consider what they are called, how many councillors each ward has, and where their boundaries are
  • Whether there are community boards, and if so the review must also consider how they are set up (e.g. what they’re called, where they are, how many members they have, etc.

Māori Wards

As the first step of the representation review, Council will decide whether to establish any Māori wards by the end of 2023, with the decision to take effect at the next election in 2025. This decision must take into account the views of iwi/Māori, including Mana Whenua in particular. A second wānanga will be held on Thursday 14 September at Coco Community Pop Up, 11 Hillary Court, Naenae at 6pm for anyone interested in joining the kōrero or learning more about Māori representation in local government.

If Mana Whenua and the community are interested in establishing Māori wards, and Council votes to proceed, the details of how the wards would work will be considered as part of the wider representation review, led by an independent panel.

Consultation has been extended until Sunday 17 September.

Click here for more information and to join the online conversation

How does the representation review work?

Our first step is to listen to our communities and learn what they think representation should look like at Council.

In May 2023, councillors decided to appoint an independent panel to engage with communities and make recommendations in the form of a proposal to Council based on what communities tell them.

The proposal will be considered by Council and then presented to all Lower Hutt residents for consultation in July 2024.

Any changes resulting from the representation review will be effective in the 2025 and 2028 local elections.

What is the role of the independent panel?

The five members of the independent panel are responsible for carrying out initial community engagement on the representation review. They will then prepare a report with recommendations to Council based on what they heard from communities. They must also take into account relevant legislation when making their recommendations.

Panelists need to be able to collectively engage with a diverse cross-section of our city. The panel will identify communities of interest in our city (people who share a common interest or passion) and engage with them to hear their thoughts on Council representation.

The terms of reference for the panel are available here.

Who is on the independent panel?

We invited expressions of interest from the community and on 25 July, Council announced the panel members:

Mr Paul Swain (Panel Chair)

Mr Swain has extensive local and central government experience having served as a Councillor on the Greater Wellington Regional Council, as a Member of Parliament representing the Hutt Valley, and as a Cabinet Minister. He has chaired Government inquiries, reviews, boards and committees. As a former Chief Crown Negotiator for Treaty of Waitangi Settlements, Mr Swain is acutely aware of the importance of providing Mana Whenua with real opportunities to engage meaningfully in the decision-making process.

Mrs Ana So’otaga

Mrs So’otaga has a background leading local and national public policy, strategy, systems change, and equity-centred programme design and delivery. She is of Tokelau heritage and along with her family and four children has been born and raised in the Hutt Valley.  Ana is well-connected to the Hutt Valley health, sports and Pacific community. She has held leadership roles at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Te Awa Kairangi Primary Health Organisation and is now the Strategy and Performance lead with Sport New Zealand.

Sir (Tā) John Clarke

Sir John has over 40 years of management experience in a wide range of public sector environments including education, justice, health, housing, human rights, Crown Law, audit, social welfare, environment and heritage. He is a fluent speaker of Te Reo Māori and has a thorough understanding of Māori issues and wide networks within Māori communities. Sir John has played a major part in Māori–Crown relations and has been the principal cultural adviser to all Ministers of Treaty Settlements.

Ms Meenakshi Sankar

Ms Sankar is a highly experienced research and evaluation practitioner, internationally respected for her leadership in analysis and strategic thinking. Over the last 35 years, she has delivered evaluation assignments for a range of government agencies in New Zealand and multilateral agencies including UNESCO HQ and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Large-scale community engagement using participatory principles is central to her research and evaluation practice, and well demonstrated in her work for the Department of Labour, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Mr Matt Richardson

Mr Richardson is an accomplished project manager with expertise in delivering large-scale landscape and ecological mitigation projects across New Zealand. He is passionate about Lower Hutt and brings experience in engaging with a diverse mixture of community groups, including iwi representatives, on a range of projects.

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