We’re looking at how our communities are represented at the Council table. The arrangements we choose now will apply for the 2022 and 2025 local government elections. This is your chance to have your say on how we look, and how your voice will be represented.
We’re undertaking a representation review so we can get new arrangements in place for the local government elections in 2022 and 2025. We want our new arrangements to be fair and effective.
Earlier this year we voted to establish a Māori Ward within the Masterton District so that local Māori electors can have a stronger voice at the council table. Because we will have a Māori Ward – we need to establish at least one more ward before the 2022 election.
Our initial proposal document outlines the arrangement we reckon will give the fairest, effective representation for our district – and we are keen to hear your thoughts on it.
What We’re Proposing
Here’s what we’re proposing:
- 8 councillors and 1 mayor
- 4 councillors to be elected by general electoral roll voters in the General Ward
- 1 councillor to be elected by Māori electoral roll voters in the Māori Ward
- 3 councillors to be ‘At Large’ – elected by both general and Māori electoral roll voters
- not to establish any geographic wards
- not to establish any Community Boards.
Do we need one general ward, or more geographically based wards? How should we look as a Council following our next election? How many councillors should we have, and what area will they be voted in from?
We’ve put together some information that might be useful to help you understand our proposal:
Have Your Say
Public submissions open on 3 September 2021, and we’ll continue to accept them until 4pm on Monday 4 October 2021.
You’ll have a chance to speak to your submission at public hearings on 13 October 2021.
You can provide your feedback:
Online: Online submission site »
Email: [email protected]
Mail: Representation Review, PO Box 444, Masterton 5840
In-person: Complete a hardcopy submission form (PDF, 478KB) and drop your submission off at 161 Queen Street (in Alert Levels 1 and 2).
On the phone: Call us on 06 370 6300 to tell us what you think and we will record it for you.
Please note – all submissions received will be publicly available and any submissions heard by council will be open to the public.
Pre-engagement – July and August
Council decides on initial proposal – 31 August
Formal public consultation opens – 3 September
Formal public consultation closes – 4 October
Oral submissions – 13 October
Council decides on final proposal – 19 November
Appeals period – 22 November to 20 December
April 2022 – Local Government Commission decides the review outcomes
Questions and Answers
What is a Māori ward?
Māori wards are a mechanism through which councils can both achieve better representation of Māori members of their communities in council decision-making, and ensure Māori issues are much more visible within council thinking and processes. Only Māori enrolled on the Māori electoral roll for the 2022 elections will vote for and be represented by candidates standing in a Māori Ward. Māori wards sit alongside the general wards.
How do you determine a community of interest?
Communities of Interest are not defined in legislation however the following dimensions contribute to a “community of interest”
- Perceptual: a sense of identity and belonging to a defined area or locality as a result of factors such as distinctive geographical features, local history, demographics, economic and social activities
- Functional: ability of the area to meet the needs of communities for services such as local schools, shopping areas, community and recreational facilities, employment,transport and communication links
- Political: ability to represent the interests of local communities which includes non-council structures such as for local iwi andhapū, residents and ratepayer associations and the range of special interest groups.
For the representation review we can only consider establishing wards or community boards for geographical communities of interest – that means we need to define the common interest of people in a specific area within the district
Masterton District has one main town that services the surrounding rural lifestyle blocks, farmland and coastal communities. The geographic communities of interest within our district have many interdependencies and common interests at a district level. Given that, we believe they are best represented at the District level.
Who can stand for election in a Māori ward?
Any New Zealand citizen, on the electoral roll, who is nominated by two other Masterton Māori roll electors, can stand for election in a Māori Ward. Candidates cannot stand for both the General and Māori wards. Candidates standing for election in Māori wards do not have to be of Māori descent.
You can only vote for candidates in the ward you are enrolled in (general or Māori). All electors from the general and Māori wards are able to vote for the Mayor and any candidates who stand at large.
You can check which roll you are on by visiting the Electoral Commission website vote.nz The Electoral Roll is used for both local government elections and central government elections. If you are of Māori descent, you can enrol in either the general or the Māori electoral rolls. If you are not of Māori descent, you can only enrol on the general electoral roll.
Do Māori ward councillors only represent Māori
Yes, but all councillors, including the Māori Ward councillor, have to act in their decision-making, in the best interests of the whole Masterton community.
Do the number of councillors make a difference to what I pay in rates?
No. The total funding to pay the councillors’ salaries is set independently by the Remuneration Authority and is decided by the size of the district, not the number of councillors.
Having fewer councillors representing a community does not mean a decrease to rates and having more councillors representing a community does not mean an increase to rates.
If a community board was to be established the Council must ensure it has the financial and other resources to support the community board including elected board members’ salaries. A targeted rate might be considered which would have only the ratepayers represented by the community board paying for these additional costs.
What are Community Boards?
Community boards are an additional layer of representation that report directly to the Council. They can have 4-12 members, at least four of whom are chosen by voters in the board area. Councils that have well-defined communities with different characteristics and interests to the rest of the district may have community boards.
The purpose of a community board is to:
- represent and act as an advocate for the interests of thecommunity;
- consider and report on any matter referred to it by their council, and any issues of interest to the communityboard;
- make an annual submission to their council onexpenditure;
- maintain an overview of services provided by their council within the community; and
- communicate with community organisations and special interest groups in the community, and undertake any other responsibilities delegated by their council.
Why do we have a Māori ward when we already have Iwi representatives?
The option of Māori wards was developed by parliament to enhance the role of all Māori in local government. One of the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 is to facilitate participation by Māori in local authority decision-making
Our district benefits from the knowledge and expertise of our Iwi representatives however these appointed members do not have a vote at Council.
Did the council consider changing the 'First Past the Post' voting system?
No, the voting system is not part of this review. Council decided in August 2020 to retain the ‘First Past the Post’ voting system. This will be in place for the 2022 election.
Can I wait and see what the final proposal is before I make my views known?
If you have a view on the Initial Proposal this is your opportunity to share it. Your view will be taken into account when Council considers submissions on the Initial Proposal in order to formalise the Final Proposal. If you don’t like Council’s final proposal, you can lodge an appeal to the Local Government Commission.
Other options that could be considered
We want our proposed representation arrangements to be fair and effective. They also have to comply with the rules.
Sitting behind our proposal (and other options we considered) are calculations that relate to the number of councillors we can have based on:
- The number of people who are listed on the General Electoral Roll compared to the Māori Electoral Roll (for one Māori and one General Ward)
- The number of people who live in each of the Ward areas (if we have more than one General or Māori Ward)
WAS CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO A RURAL WARD?
Yes, but this may not ensure effective representation of our rural (including coastal) communities.
Our 2018 representation review concluded that, given the level of interdependence and common interest at a district level, our communities of interest were best represented at the district level. No new information has been identified that would suggest this has changed.
Within our Rural area there are smaller diverse communities that have different interests and needs. Some might affiliate more with the urban area than the rural area. For example, people on lifestyle blocks who live close to the urban area.
Some also have connections to more than one geographic area within our district and their interests overlap. For example, people who have baches at our beach resorts as well as properties in the urban or rural areas; or people who live in town but are connected to marae in our rural or beach areas.
We have also taken into consideration the Rural Advisory Group. This was established in response to a submission from Federated Farmers on our 2018 representation review. The Rural Advisory Group represents rural views.
In addition, with a rural ward, the total number of councillors that people who live in the rural ward could vote for would be less than what we have proposed with a General Ward, a Māori Ward and At Large.
WAS CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO HAVING TWO MĀORI WARD CANDIDATES?
Yes. For Masterton District Council to have two Māori Ward Councillors we would have to increase the total number of Councillors to 13. The arrangement would then be:
- Māori Ward – 2 candidates
- General Ward – 11 candidates
People on the Māori Electoral roll would get to vote for 2 candidates. People on the General Electoral roll would get to vote for 11 candidates.
With this arrangement and 13 Councillors, no councillors elected At Large would be possible.
With this arrangement, the total number of councillors that people who are enrolled on the Māori electoral roll could vote for would be less than what we have proposed with one Māori Ward Councillor, four General Ward Councillors and three councillors elected At Large.
Increasing the number of Councillors to 13 would reduce remuneration for each Councillor to $30,221 per annum, based on the current pool being split equally between Councillors.
Feedback from our Community Workshops indicated that being able to pay each Councillor more may attract more diversity in candidates standing for Council.
Having one Councillor for the Māori Ward does not mean that our Council can only have one Māori Councillor. Under our proposal, people who identify as Māori can stand for the Māori Ward or they can choose to stand for the General Ward or At Large (but they do have to choose one option).
WAS CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO MAINTAINING TEN COUNCILLORS?
Yes. Masterton District Council currently has ten Councillors.
Feedback from our Community Workshops indicated that 8 to 10 Councillors would be appropriate to achieve effective representation for our district. Feedback also indicated that being able to pay each Councillor more could attract more diversity in candidates standing for Council.
The time commitment involved in being a Councillor means it is very difficult to become a Councillor and continue to work full time. Increasing the remuneration may reduce financial barriers for some people thinking of standing for Council. For example, increased remuneration might enable people to reduce their hours in paid employment or leave paid employment to focus on being a Councillor.
The only way we can increase remuneration is by reducing the number of Councillors as the pool of money we have to pay our Councillors is set by the Remuneration Authority.
If we maintain 10 Councillors, they would each receive remuneration of $39, 287 per annum, based on the current pool being split equally between Councillors.
By reducing the number of Councillors to 8, each Councillor will receive $49,109 per annum, based on the current pool being split equally between Councillors.
Some useful terms
Means electors from across the whole of the authority area vote for their preferred candidates, regardless of where they live or what electoral roll they are on. The mayor is always elected at-large. The term at-large is used where there are no wards. Councils can have mixed arrangements with Wards and At Large.
Councils are elected bodies that enable democratic decision-making by and for local communities. Councils make decisions about local issues and services, having regard to local needs and priorities, recognising that not all communities are the same, nor do they have the same issues. The district of Masterton is represented by Masterton District Council (MDC). Council has the same meaning as local authority and territorial authority.
Every Council is to consist of not fewer than 5 councillors and no more than 29 councillors. Councillors are elected to represent their communities for three-year terms. There is no limit on the number of terms they may serve. There is no specific job description for councillors. However, as representatives and leaders of their communities, their role involves setting policies, making regulatory decisions and reviewing council performance.
Community boards represent the interests of particular communities and can be established in any part of a city or district where no other ‘community’ (as defined in the LGA 2002) already exists. These communities are geographically based with defined boundaries. Community Boards are “unincorporated” and are neither a local authority (Council) nor a committee of a local authority. Their functions, duties and powers are set by statute as well as delegated by the local authority of which they are a part. Boards must also operate within a statutory environment that set rules and processes which govern the way in which they work.
Councils must ensure effective representation of communities of interest. Achieving effective representation requires identifying communities of interest that are geographically distinct or that may be spread across the district. As far as practicable, the following further factors need to be considered when determining effective representation for the local authority:
- avoiding arrangements that may create barriers to participation, for example, not recognising residents’ familiarity and identity with an area during elections
- not splitting recognised communities of interest between electoral subdivisions
- not grouping together two or more communities of interest that have few common interests
- accessibility, size, and configuration of an area, including: the population’s reasonable access to its elected members and vice versa; and the elected members ability to effectively represent the views of their electoral areaand provide reasonably even representation across the area.
Fair representation of communities of interest means that membership of wards is required to provide approximate population equality per member, that is, all votes are of approximately equal value.
In relation to the district of a territorial authority, means every ward of the district that is not a Māori ward. Electors registered on the General Electoral Roll will vote in the general ward.
If a community is identified as having a strong overlap of their perceptual, functional, and political community of interest and they are located within a discrete geographic area, a geographic ward or constituency with defined boundaries within the territorial authority limits may be established as long as the +/- 10% rule which ensures a fair ratio of councillors to population between wards can be applied. Alternatively, to offer fair and effective representation if a community is significantly isolated, a geographic ward with defined boundaries within the territorial authority limits may be established.
Local Government Commission
The Local Government Commission is an independent body established by legislation. Its members are appointed by the Minister of Local Government. The Commission’s role and functions are also established by legislation.
The Local Government Commission has a general role of promoting good local government in New Zealand. In part, this is achieved by the functions of:
- providing information about local government
- promoting good practice relating to a local authority or to local government generally
The Commission also has specific functions to consider, including:
- appeals and objections against final local authority representation review proposals and also proposals not complying with statutory fair representation requirements (the ‘+/- 10% rule’).
- appeals against a territorial authority decision not to constitute communities and community boards
Means a Māori ward created in accordance with Schedule 1A of the Local Electoral Act 2001. In relation to the district of a territorial authority, means every ward of the district that is not a General ward. Electors registered on the Māori Electoral Roll will vote in the Māori ward. Ward Means a ward established under the Local Electoral Act and resulting from the division, for electoral purposes, of the district of a territorial authority.
Means a ward established under the Local Electoral Act and resulting from the division, for electoral purposes, of the district of a territorial authority.