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2023-24 Representation Review

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:

  • How many elected members should be on council?
  • We currently have wards - should we keep them? If so, how many should our city have, what should their boundaries be, and what should they be named?
  • Should we do away with wards and have at large councillors only?
  • Should we have a mix of both ward councillors and at large councillors?
  • Does Napier need community boards?
Rep Review
Rep Review
Rep Review
Rep Review

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.

Wards

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.

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

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.

Making a submission

Submissions to have your say on Napier's 2023-24 Representation Review are closed.

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.

Representation Review Drop-in Session - Wednesday 22 November

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.

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

Join our People's Panel

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