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2023-24 Representation Review

Every six years, we’re required to take a fresh look at Napier’s representation arrangements, and now it's your chance to be part of the process. Take a look at our options for Napier’s future local democracy arrangements, and let us know what your preference is.

The Representation Review Survey is now closed.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their feedback. Your input is invaluable in shaping our representation plans moving forward. Stay tuned for further updates as we analyse the feedback received.


Elections for councils are held every three years. This is when residents vote for mayors and councillors, and in some parts of New Zealand, for community board members and local board members.

Councils are required by the Local Electoral Act 2001 to take a fresh look at their representation arrangements at least once every six years. This is to ensure the council is structured to best serve the interests and needs of its community.

For Napier, this means we need to consider:

  • How many elected members should be on council?
  • How many wards should our city have, what should their boundaries be, and what should they be named?
  • Should we have a mix of both ward councillors and at large councillors?
  • How many Māori wards and representatives should Napier have?
  • Should we establish community boards?

We undertook a community survey on this matter in late 2023, including analysis to identify communities of interest in Napier. Council considered the community’s feedback and analysis, and based on this, we are now considering five potential options for Napier’s future local democracy arrangements. We now want to know which one is your preferred option out of these five.

What are the options?

The following five options are potentially what Napier could introduce as its new representation arrangements. All options include one mayor. 


 Considerations for Option 1:

  • Closest option to current arrangements including two city-wide Māori ward seats. This makes it easy to accommodate Māori wards with minimal change.
  • 70% of residents know their ward (SIL research Dec 2023).
  • Population to councillor ratio: 5,193:1. 
  • Gives voters in areas of lower voter turnout dedicated seats to vote for.
  • Nelson Park ward has one less councillor. 
  • Consideration needed of which ward Te Awa developments would best sit in
  • Splits coastal areas.
  • Slightly larger council size.

Option 1 map


Considerations for Option 2:

  • Population to councillor ratio: 6,137:1 
  • Brings together the current ward structure into two wards. Ahuriri/Taradale and Nelson Park/Onekawa-Tamatea share similar socio-demographic characteristics. 
  • Onekawa-Tamatea and Nelson Park are geographically very close to each other.
  • Represents low voter turnout areas at a high rate with Nelson Park/Onekawa-Tamatea and Māori wards. 
  • Gives voters in areas that have lower voter turnout dedicated seats to vote for.
  • Less wards:
    • could be seen as being less complicated.
    • is the closest option to a city-wide general ward while acknowledging that Napier has areas of low voter turnout. To be effectively represented these areas need dedicated Council representation. 
    • could discourage potential future candidates due to higher costs to campaign than with our current wards.
    • all voters on the general electoral roll get to vote for more seats than Option 1.
    • Ahuriri and Taradale wards share commonalities, but they cover a wide area.
    • Coastal areas are split between two wards.
    • Council size is slightly less which may be seen as providing less representation than currently provided.

2 Ward Boundaries map


Considerations for Option 3:

The same considerations apply as for option 2 above. The difference is this option provides two extra ‘at large’ representatives.

Having some councillors elected at large may provide a balance between representation of district-wide interests and local concerns. It means that residents can vote for more than just their ward councillor(s), as they can also vote for councillors being elected at-large.

2 Ward Boundaries map


Considerations for Option 4:

  • Population/councillor ratio: 6,135:1. 
  • Three general wards may strike a balance between being easier to understand than four wards, while still providing for communities of interest.
  • Gives close to even split of councillors across city.
  • Ahuriri ward recognises coastal areas including city, sea/airport, current developments such as Parklands and Te Awa, and future development such as Mission Hills.
  • Taradale ward is to focus on identity of Taradale suburbs and nearby suburbs of similar demographics and land use.
  • Onekawa ward recognises low voter turnout areas of Nelson Park ward and Onekawa-Tamatea ward that are geographically close to each other (except for Nelson Park and McLean Park).
  • Combines areas of similar demographics with some exceptions. 
  • Combines all semi-rural residential communities in Napier. However, semi-rural residential communities are geographically at other ends of Napier.
  • May split functional communities of interest due to the wider geographical reach e.g., some residents in Jervoistown (Ahuriri ward) are more likely to use Taradale facilities.
  • Council size is slightly smaller which may be seen as providing less representation than currently provided.

3 ward boundaries


5Considerations for Option 5:

The same considerations apply as for option 4 above. The difference is this option provides two extra ‘at large’ representatives.

Having some councillors elected at large may provide a balance between representation of district-wide interests and local concerns. It means that residents can vote for more than just their ward councillor(s), as they can also vote for councillors being elected at-large.

3 ward boundaries

For all options above, there is the possibility of having either one Māori ward with two councillors, or two Māori wards with one councillor each. We are proposing to have one Māori ward with two representatives for the following reasons.

  • There will be two councillors working together.  
  • Will have a similar number of councillors to some of Napier’s general wards.  
  • Collective responsibility.
  • Easier selection process for voters.

We considered proposing two Māori wards - one smaller ward, which has a high percentage of Māori electoral population and one larger ward with a similar percentage of Māori electoral population. Although this arrangement would reflect where a high percentage of Māori electoral population lives, it may result in uneven numbers of candidates standing in each ward, or no-one standing in one of the wards. There is also an increased chance that a candidate gets in without any competition.  You will have a chance to let us know what you think about the single Māori ward proposal during formal consultation in July.

See further information below about why Māori wards are included in this Representation Review.

Some local authorities have community boards, which have functions and powers delegated to them by their councils. They act in the interests of their community and liaise with organisations and special interest groups in their community on council matters. The cost of community boards is funded through rates, and therefore would be an additional cost to ratepayers.

Currently Napier doesn’t have any community boards. In our November 2023 survey, we asked the community whether introducing community boards would be appropriate for Napier. There was positive feedback from communities based in and near Maraenui to establish a community board there.

Council is considering a community board for this area because it is a distinct area with unique needs. A community board would help Napier City Council understand and meet those needs. The proposed community board would have functions and powers delegated to it by Council. The board’s role would be to represent the interests of the community in areas in and close to Maraenui. Tell us what you think by completing the survey here.

More information about community boards can be found here.

More information about Napier’s local democracy arrangements

There are many potential options for Napier’s representation arrangements.

In coming up with an appropriate option, we need to consider:

  • Whether elections should be by ward only or a combination of ward and at large
  • Accessibility, size, and configuration of the area including:
    • the number of councillors considered appropriate to effectively represent the views of their electoral area and
    • provide reasonably even representation across the area through activities like public meetings and opportunities for face-to-face meetings.
  • Identifying communities of interest that are geographically distinct or spread across the district. Communities of interest are about how people see themselves as ‘fitting in’ to a particular area; also using similar facilities as others in the area and facing similar challenges.
  • Not splitting recognised communities of interest between different wards.
  • Not grouping together two or more communities of interest that have few common interests.
  • Avoiding arrangements that may create barriers to participation with Council.

Your rates won’t be affected if the number of councillors increases or decreases. The total pool of remuneration for Councillors is determined by an independent government agency. Napier City Council will have the same amount of money to pay its elected members, no matter how many there are.

If Napier decides to introduce a community board(s), this would be a cost to the ratepayer. The cost would depend on how many board members there are, and how the board is set up. Typically, the costs would be between $16,000 and $55,000 per year for a community board with around four elected members and servicing an area with the population of Maraenui and surrounds. This cost would be met by ratepayers from across the city.

In 2021, Napier City Council consulted with the community on whether to introduce Māori wards to Napier. Following this consultation, Council made the decision to introduce Māori wards at the 2025 local authority elections. This means we also need to confirm how many Māori wards and councillors for these wards Napier should have, so we’re ready for the next local authority election.

The Government is introducing legislation requiring local authorities to hold a binding poll if they want to establish Māori wards. The Government’s proposed legislation means that because NCC established Māori wards without a poll, we will have to either rescind that decision, or hold a poll at the 2025 election. The poll would ask the community whether we should keep Māori wards beyond the 2025-2028 triennium. If the community’s answer is no, then Māori wards will be removed from the 2028 election. A further representation review would need to be completed before 2028.


Adopting a ward-based system for electing councillors:

  • means representation is likely to be more evenly distributed geographically across the district, although candidates are not required to live in the ward in which they are standing.
  • encourages residents to become better informed on candidates and their policies because there are fewer candidates, who may also be better known to locals.
  • may improve accountability in that ward and ensure a closer link between Council and residents of particular parts of the district. This could contribute to the effective delivery of local services and facilities.
  • may result in residents feeling more able to approach ward councillors directly.
  • may enable more effective management of community/council consultation processes.
  • could result in potential candidates finding it easier financially, and in terms of time, to campaign in a ward than under an at-large system.

At large

The “at large” option can:

  • be seen to give a wider choice of candidates for residents to vote for, rather than restricting them to voting only for candidates from one area of the local authority.
  • be seen to remove any perceptions of parochialism from Council deliberations.
  • make it easier for “at-large” councillors to take a district-wide perspective.
  • may achieve more diverse representation. For example, ethnic minority groups and other interest groups spread across the city could have a greater chance of being elected in an at-large system.
  • if residents are given the opportunity to choose from all candidates, may result in increased accountability.

Note: In Napier, we are unable to have a fully ‘at large’ arrangement, due to the introduction of Māori wards. We can have wards-only, or a mixed system (see below).

A mixed system

A mixed system, where some councillors are elected to represent wards and some are elected at large:

  • can be seen to provide a balance between representation of district-wide interests and local concerns.
  • means that residents can vote for more than just their ward councillor(s), as they can also vote for councillors being elected at-large.
  • still provides specific ward (local) representation.

Important points about all options

All elected members, regardless of the area they are elected to represent, make the same declaration to act in the best interests of the whole district. There is no difference in the decision-making role of elected members elected at large and members elected to a ward. Ward and at large members do, however, continue to represent the areas they are elected from at the council table.

A resident can ask any councillor for help and is not limited to their local ward councillors, if under a ward system.

Do you want to hear from us more often and have your say on other Napier projects?

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