Elections for local authorities (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.
Local authorities 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 a local authority is structured to best serve the interests and needs of its community.
For Napier, this means we need to consider:
In 2021, Napier City 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 in this representation review.
Note that we are not asking the community about whether we should have Māori wards or not, as this decision has already been made.
People on the Māori roll can only vote for representatives standing for Māori ward(s).
Some local authorities have community boards for certain geographic areas. Community boards carry out functions and have powers delegated to them by their councils. Their role includes representing and acting in the interests of their community. They liaise with organisations and special interest groups in their community on council matters.
Currently Napier doesn’t have any community boards. In this representation review, we need to consider whether introducing community boards would be appropriate for Napier. If so, how many boards should Napier have, how many representatives should they have, and for which geographic communities?
To find out more about what community boards are, what their role in the community is and who is involved with them, visit the Local Government in New Zealand website here.
To help us make informed decisions in the representation review, we need to understand Napier’s ‘communities of interest’, which means how people see themselves as ‘fitting in’ to their district.
We’ll get an external research agency to undertake a community survey so we can get a good understanding of this. The survey will ask questions such as what type of community activities contribute to people’s sense of belonging? What aspects of people’s communities matter the most to them? Do people identify mainly with their suburb, or the whole city?”
Understanding what makes up Napier’s many communities will help us to decide on whether to keep wards, decide on their boundaries and names, or whether to not have wards at all.
Many local authorities are made up of wards, with each ward represented by a certain number of councillors. Some local authorities have no wards, and councillors are elected ‘at large’, meaning they are elected by voters across the entire district. Some local authorities have a mixture of both ward councillors and councillors at large. It is up to each local authority to decide on this during a representation review.
Adopting a ward-based system for electing councillors:
The “at large” option can:
A mixed system, where some councillors are elected to represent wards and some are elected at large:
Your rates won’t be affected if the number of councillors increases or decreases. The total pool of remuneration for Councillors is determined by a government agency. Napier City Council will have the same amount of money to pay its elected members, no matter how many there are.
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.
We want to know what you think about Napier’s representation arrangements. Share your thoughts with us by completing our survey below before 5pm, Friday 15 December.
We’ll consider the community’s views from the survey. We’ll then put forward Council’s initial proposal in a formal community consultation. This will take place in the first half of 2024. After the consultation closes, our elected members will consider the community’s views and then decide on the representation arrangements for Napier for the next 5-6 years.
If you were unable to attend our in-person session, we have a recording of Mayor Kirsten Wise's presentation available for you to watch below.
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