He aha te Arotake Whakaahuahanga? What is a ‘Representation Review’?
Rotorua Lakes Council’s ‘Your Choice – 2022 Representation Review will decide how many elected members will sit around the council table and make decisions on your behalf.
Local authorities are required to review their representation arrangements at least once every six years. As part of the representation review a local authority can take a fresh look at the structure of its membership and the way they are elected. This could affect the total number of members, whether they come from a ward or ‘at large’ across the wider district, the boundaries of wards and constituencies, or the names of wards and constituencies.
In simple terms, the following needs to be considered:
- How many elected members should the district have?
- Should elected members be elected from across the whole district or split into wards?
- If wards are introduced, what should the boundaries be?
- If we have wards, how many elected members should we have per ward?
- Should Community Boards be introduced/retained?
- Number of seats for Māori Ward/Wards
The review must be publicly notified by the Council no later than 8 September 2021.
Elections are held for local authorities every three years. This includes mayors, councillors and community board members. The next Rotorua Lakes Council elections will take place in October 2022.
He aha i whai tikanga ai te arotake?
Why are reviews important?
- They ensure our electoral arrangements are fair;
- They ensure equality of access;
- They enable citizens to discuss the nature of effective representation in their cities; districts and regions;
- They contribute to our experience of democracy not just locally but also nationally.
The current model for the district is:-
- One mayor and 10 elected members, elected from across the district (‘at large’) , plus
- A Lakes community board that comprises of 4 members elected from the lakes areas and 1 member appointed from the council, plus
- A Rural community board that comprises of 4 members elected from the rural areas and 1 member appointed from the council.
The district has had this model for the last two election rounds, 2016 and 2019.
Te tau o ngā mema whai mana pōti
Numbers of Elected Members
The review can consider how many elected members are required to lead the Rotorua district and represent the needs of the people of Rotorua. The Mayor is elected ‘at large’. There could be between 5 and 29 members (excluding the Mayor) elected to the Rotorua Lakes Council.
Questions to consider regarding the number of elected members include:
- Can councillors easily attend public meetings throughout their area?
- How easy is it for members of the public to meet with their councillors?
- Can councillors effectively represent the views of the community at a district level?
Ngā hapori whaipānga
Communities of Interest
Defining local ‘communities of interest’ is an essential part of the review process and needs to be carried out in order to determine how to provide effective representation. There is no legal definition for communities of interest but defining what one might be may include key factors such as:
- A sense of community, identity and belonging
- Similar demographic, socio-economic and /or ethnic characteristics
- Similarity in economic activity
- Dependence on shared facilities in an area
- Physical and topographical features
- The history of the area
- The rohe or takiwa of local iwi
- Transport and communication links
Takiwā, ā rohe rānei?
Wards or At Large?
The district could be divided into wards if it is considered this provides a more effective and fairer way for residents to obtain access to elected members to have their views heard. If divided in to wards, each ward must elect at least one councillor, and each councillor representing a ward must be elected by the electors of that ward.
The following options are available:
- All councillors elected by wards
- Some councillors elected by wards and some at large
- All councillors elected at large.
In February 2021 the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill was introduced and subsequently came into force on 1 March 2021. The law change means local polls can no longer overturn a councils’ decision to introduce Māori wards. It also means the deadline for councils to consider Māori wards for the 2022 local elections was extended to 21 May 2021.
On 21 May 2021 Rotorua Lakes Council adopted the establishment of Māori Wards for the 2022 Local Election.
Only those enrolled on the Māori roll can vote for Māori seats.
Ngā Rāngai hapori
As part of the review, a territorial authority must consider whether community boards are (or would be) appropriate to provide fair and effective representation for individuals and communities in its district.
The representation review provides a process to propose the constitution of new boards or alterations or disestablishment of existing boards. When carrying out a review, the required decisions are:
- whether there need to be communities and community boards within the territorial authority’s district
- if the territorial authority decides that one or more communities needs to be established (or retained)
The area of a community board may be subdivided for electoral purposes. This includes provision for the community board members to be elected by wards if the community board area comprises two or more whole wards of a district.