Horizons Regional Council’s Representation Review open for submissions

Horizons Regional Council are asking the region’s residents if their proposed number of councillors, constituencies they represent, and the names of those constituencies is a fair and effective arrangement for the next two local government elections.

Horizons chair Rachel Keedwell says that Council’s Representation Review proposes to keep the six current constituencies with 12 general Councillors, and adds two new Māori constituencies, bringing the total number of Councillors to 14.

“Constituencies are the way regional councils divide their region. This is similar to the way city and district councils can have wards. Voters in regional council elections vote for the candidate(s) they want to represent their constituency,” says Cr Keedwell.

“Earlier this year, Council resolved to establish a Māori constituency or constituencies for the 2022 and 2025 local elections. This means that, in addition to retaining our current Ruapehu, Whanganui, Manawatū-Rangitīkei, Palmerston North, Horowhenua and Tararua constituencies, Council is proposing two new Māori constituencies - Raki Maori (North) and Tonga Maori (South).

“The constituency boundary for the two Māori constituencies has been determined by the number and distribution of voters on the Māori roll.

The public can provide submissions on whether they agree there should be two constituencies and on the proposed boundary and their names, or think there should instead be one Māori constituency with two councillors.

“People should also note that voters enrolled on the general electoral roll can only vote for representatives in general constituencies, and voters enrolled on the Māori roll vote for representatives in Māori constituencies. You can only vote for the candidates in one constituency within a region.

“Our region is both demographically and geographically vast. Ensuring we are representing our communities effectively can be somewhat of a challenge.

“Our population isn’t spread evenly across a region, so while the aim is for councillors to each represent a similar number of people, it’s not always possible.

“For example, the Palmerston North constituency is a small area but currently there are four councillors to represent the 90,000 people who live there. The Tararua and Ruapehu constituencies cover much larger areas but only have one councillor each to represent about 19,000 and 10,000 people respectively.

“We also need to consider communities of interest or groups of people who have a particular relationship with an iwi, lake, mountain, or land area, or connected social values such as an education facility, or transport link.

“These, and the existing district boundaries, are just some of the things Council took into consideration during two workshops before deciding on the proposed arrangements now out for consultation.”

Cr Keedwell says that an increase in Councillors will not equate to an increase in rates.

“While the funding to pay councillors comes out of rates, central government sets the total amount that can be used for this. This set amount will remain the same, regardless of the number of councillors,” says Cr Keedwell.

“We encourage anyone to make a submission, and let us know if we have our councillor numbers and constituencies right. All submissions will be considered before a final choice is adopted.

Consultation closes midnight, Sunday 10 October 2021 with hearings taking place on 27 October 2021 at Regional House in Palmerston North.

To make a submission or find further information head to https://haveyoursay.horizons.govt.nz

You can also send submissions to Freepost 217922, Horizons Regional Council, Private Bag 11025, Manawatū Mail Centre, Palmerston North or drop it off to one of our service centres (note this option is only available during Covid-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2).