Public to have their say on proposed representation changes

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Published: 1 July 2024

Hutt City Council is seeking the public’s view on proposed changes to the number of city Councillors, the wards they represent, and the disestablishment of Community Boards.

All councils must conduct a review every six years as dictated by the Local Electoral Act. Hutt City Council last did a Representation Review in 2018.

To this end, Council appointed an independent panel in July 2023 to conduct a review into the structure of its elected representation.

Previous reviews were led by elected members and that made it difficult to make objective decisions about representation matters. Using an independent this time means that all consultation and subsequent recommendations have operated at arm's length from council.

Representation Review Panel Chair Paul Swain says consultation with the community proved invaluable in formulating recommended changes.

“It gave us strong insights into how people thought we could improve representation across the city. These views were used to guide our recommendations to Council.”

At a meeting on Thursday 27 May, Council agreed to the next step which is giving the public the opportunity to provide feedback on the initial representation proposal.

Mayor Campbell Barry says it’s important the process is transparent, and residents – whom ultimately are represented through any arrangement – have a meaningful voice to inform our final decision.

“The independent panel has been through a robust process to get us to this point, and we’re grateful for the work they have done.  Now, we want to hear what our community thinks of the proposal. This will help us understand how Lower Hutt residents want to be represented when we make our final decision.”

Key points in the initial representation proposal to be consulted on are:

  • The disestablishment of the Petone, Wainuiomata and Eastbourne Community Boards.
  • Reducing the number of at-large councillors from six to five.
  • Electing seven Councillors from five general wards – compared to the existing six Councillors from five wards.
  • Create a Māori Ward called Mana Kairangi ki Tai Māori Ward with one Councillor,
  • Bring the total number of Councillors from 12 to 13 (see Notes to Editor).

This would mean that electors in the city would vote for a Mayor, Councillor/s the ward where they live and five city-wide Councillors. Those on the Māori electoral roll would vote for a Mayor, a Councillor in the Māori Ward and five city-wide Councillors.

Proposed ward boundary changes have also been recommended:

  • Expand the Northern General Ward which would have two councillors.
  • Expand the Central General Ward which would have two councillors.
  • Reduce the size of the Harbour Ward which would have one councillor.
  • Reduce the size of the Western Ward which would have one councillor.
  • Disestablish the Eastern Ward because of expansion of the Northern and Central General Wards.

All residents are invited to provide feedback on the initial Representation Proposal from Monday 1 July until Thursday 1 August. Details can be found here.

Oral hearings from submitters are scheduled for August, with Council to make its final decision in September.

Any changes adopted would take effect from the 2025 Local Body Elections.

The independent panel’s full report and recommendations can be found here.

Notes to Editor

Council resolved on 21 November 2023, in accordance with the Local Electorate Act and in consultation with Mana Whenua, that at least one Māori ward be established for the 2025 triennial elections. This meant the current representation review needed to include a determination on how many Māori wards there will be for those elections, the number of members for these wards, and ward boundaries and names. As there is only one Māori ward and the number of voters on the Māori roll dictates that one representative be elected, there is no aspect of Māori wards that requires feedback.

Since the Council’s resolution, the Government announced it intended to amend the LEA to reinstate the previous provision that council decisions to establish Māori wards will be subject to any poll demanded by electors. This means that at the 2025 election, all voters in Lower Hutt will also be asked whether Lower Hutt should continue to have a Māori ward at the 2028 election and beyond.