The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act 2019 came into effect on 21 October 2019. This made significant changes to the law governing how local government reorganisation proposals are to be dealt with by the Local Government Commission.
The existing reorganisation process in the Tokomaru Opiki area is deemed to be a “reorganisation investigation” in terms of the new legislation. This means that rather than the process following a series of steps set down in the legislation, the Commission has more flexibility over the process it will follow, and is better able to design a process to fit the issues before it in any particular case.
Before deciding on the process it will follow, however, the Commission is required to consult affected local authorities and iwi and hapū. Once this has been done it will adopt a reorganisation investigation process document setting this process out. Once this document has been adopted it will be published on this website.
The revised legislation can be accessed at Schedule 3 Local Government Act.
At its meeting on 23 May 2019 the Commission received a single response to the call for alternative applications. You can read the response here:
The Commission decided to meet with the respondent and then undertake research and analysis before identifying the "reasonably practicable options” and its "preferred option".
On 4 April 2019 the Local Government Commission released a public notice inviting alternative applications in response to an application for a change to the boundary between Horowhenua District and Palmerston North City. The period for alternative applications closed on 15 May 2019.
You can read the public notice here:
The following information was prepared to assist those interested in submitting their own alternative reorganisation application or other proposal.
An “alternative application” is simply a proposal for some other change to local government in the affected area that falls within the broad definition of “local government reorganisation” contained in section 24 of the Local Government Act. This may include the:
You can read the section 24 definition here: Local Government Act 2002 S.24
Any individual or group may lodge an alternative application – including individual members of the public, community groups, businesses and organisations.
Alternative applications must include:
In some cases, alternative applications will be required to include further information, e.g. if the alternative proposes change over a larger area than the original application it must include evidence of some level of community support in the additional area. An alternative application may also include other information the applicant thinks might be relevant to their application.
The above requirements for alternative applications are set out in clause 5 of Schedule 3 and section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002. You can read the requirements here: Local Government Act 2002 S.5
What happens next?
Once the Commission has received alternative reorganisation applications, it will then identify what it sees as the “reasonably practicable options”.
These may include the original reorganisation application, or they may reflect alternatives proposed by other people, or be options that the Commission may identify for itself. By law, the reasonably practicable options must also include current local government arrangements i.e. no change.
Options must meet certain legislative criteria before they can be considered “reasonably practicable”. To be a “reasonably practicable option”, the Commission must be satisfied that:
The Commission will then identify its “preferred option”. In addition to meeting requirements for “reasonably practicable options”, the Commission must take into account the following further matters:
If the Commission’s preferred option is not the “no change” option, it would then prepare a draft reorganisation proposal. There would then be a period of community consultation including a submissions process. The Commission would then consider whether to proceed to issue a final reorganisation proposal. If the Commission were to decide on the “no change” option in relation to reorganisation it would end its process there.
On 29 November 2018 the Commission determined that the application met the necessary statutory tests and has agreed to assess the application. You can read the Commission’s November decision here:
Having agreed to assess the application, the next step for the Commission was to invite alternative applications.
On 4 October 2018, the Commission received a local government reorganisation application from the “Tokopiki Boundary Change Group” for a change in the boundary between Horowhenua District and Palmerston North City. The effect of the proposal would be to transfer the township of Tokomaru and rural locality of Opiki and adjacent areas from the district into the city. The affected area that would become part of the city if the proposal were to proceed is shown in the map here:
The group considered the area that would be affected by the proposed boundary change would be better served by being included within the boundaries of Palmerston North City.
You can read the original application here: