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Two wards only -- General and Māori

Friday 8 April, 2022

Tairāwhiti will be represented by two wards – one general and one Māori – at the local body elections in October and going forward.

It will be the region’s first election with a Māori Ward.

The Local Government Commission released its decision yesterday, which backed Council’s initial proposal for two wards.

That initial proposal changed to include a general city ward and a rural ward after strong appeals from the rural community.

However, this has been overturned with the Commission affirming that a district-wide general ward in a Single Transferrable Vote (STV) electoral system provides a greater opportunity for the effective representation of rural communities.

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz says she understands rural communities will be disappointed with this decision.

“However, that does not necessarily mean there won’t be rural voices around the Council table at the end of the year. With targeted campaigning and the use of the STV voting system, that can still be achieved.”

Mayor Stoltz says there was a robust process carried out and extensive community input. “Feedback supported both options we considered, and as could be seen with the Council voting, it was pretty much 50/50.

“At the end of the day the decision sat with the Local Government Commission, and we respect that.”

The Commission received seven appeals and 119 objections after Council’s final proposal, which included a rural ward.

The Commission says all of those objections and appeals were opposed to splitting the general electoral population into two wards, one rural and one urban, asking for a single district-wide general ward instead.

The Appellants argued that the proposed rural ward is too large (8,300 square kilometres) for two councillors to represent effectively.

In their determination, the Commission says under the STV (Single Transferable Vote) electoral system adopted by Council, a single district-wide general ward allows more choice and/or greater equivalency of votes for all voters.

As a result of the decision, from October the Council will comprise the mayor and 13 councillors elected with eight councillors elected by electors of the Tairāwhiti General Ward, and five councillors elected by the electors of the Tairāwhiti Māori Ward.

The full decision of the Local Government Commission can be read here.