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2017: Wellington Region reorganisation

Overview:

Working with Wellington councils: Recommendations

Following the formal closure of the region-wide and Wairarapa reorganisation processes, the Local Government Commission prepared a report ‘Strengthening the Wellington Region’ in December 2017 with recommendations to Wellington’s councils to take joint action on the urban area’s transport and planning challenges.

These recommendations followed on from work carried out by the Commission and councils in 2016 on whether there were alternatives to amalgamating the region’s councils that would provide some of the same benefits.

Recommendations report

Media release

Proposal for a Wairarapa District Council

Final proposal – July 2017

Following the receipt of submissions and the holding of hearings, the Commission issued a final proposal for a Wairarapa District Council combining the South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton district councils. 

View the final proposal.

This proposal was rejected by the community at a binding poll in December 2017.

As a result, the formal Wairarapa reorganisation process was then concluded

Draft proposal – March 2017

Based on the feedback received, the Commission proposed a new combined district council for the Wairarapa.

View the draft proposal.

The Wairarapa District Council would replace the existing South Wairarapa, Carterton, and Masterton district councils. The existing local government arrangements would remain in the rest of the Wellington Region.

Public engagement – June 2016

The Commission conducted a ‘What do you want for the Wairarapa?’ engagement programme from 6 June to 8 July 2016 and collated feedback from the programme.

Formal closure of the Wellington Region reorganisation application process

The applications for local government reorganisation from the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Wairarapa district councils in mid-2013 led to a draft proposal from the Local Government Commission for a region-wide unitary authority. In June 2015, the Commission decided not to proceed with this proposal due to lack of public support.

Instead, because about 40 per cent of submissions suggested alternatives to the status quo, the Commission decided to work with councils and the community to achieve some consensus on the challenges the region faced, and to collaborate in identifying possible options to address the challenges.

The Commission  then met with the Wellington Region Mayoral Forum, chief executives and councils to look for opportunities to strengthen the region. Together the parties agreed to progress work in three main areas:

Subsequently the agreed work areas were expanded and in July 2016 the Commission reported on progress made on five identified priority areas.

Earlier history of reorganisation application process

On 22 May 2013, the Local Government Commission received a reorganisation application from Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils. The application was for the union of the three Wairarapa districts and the constitution of a unitary authority for the united area.

At a meeting on 13 June 2013, the Commission decided the “affected area” for the application was the Wellington Region and that it had sufficient information to accept and assess the application. The Commission also decided to defer the required public notification of the application pending expected receipt of a further reorganisation application relating to the “affected area”.

On 21 June 2013, the Commission received a reorganisation application from the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC). The application was for the constitution of a unitary authority covering the entire area of the existing Wellington Region, including the Wairarapa, but with the exception of the small area of Tararua District currently in the region which would be transferred to Manawatu-Wanganui Region. In addition to constitution of a governing body for the new council, the application was also for the establishment of eight local boards for the area.

At a meeting on 4 July 2013, the Commission agreed it had sufficient information to accept and assess the GWRC application and to publicly notify the application along with the application submitted by the three Wairarapa councils, and to call for alternative applications.

The Commission then went through the following required processes:

  • publicly notifying the applications and calling for alternative applications
  • assessing all of the alternative applications, the original applications, the status quo and an option developed by the Commission against the statutory criteria for “reasonably practicable options”
  • identifying its “preferred option” against further statutory criteria which was a unitary authority for the affected area
  • releasing a draft proposal based on its preferred option
  • consulting on its draft proposal including receiving submissions and holding hearings, and also continuing to consult other statutory parties
  • analysing the feedback received and deciding whether to proceed to a final proposal.

Decisions:

Greater Wellington Regional Council Application

Wairarapa Councils Application