Representation review pānui 7 - Māori organisations

In this pānui:
- Progress on representation reviews around the motu
- A request for representation review timelines from councils
- Aspects for councils to consider when developing initial representation proposals
- A summary of Frequently Asked Questions arising from online drop-in sessions recently held with councils
28 Mar 2024

Kia ora koutou

Welcome to our latest pānui.  This update covers information provided to councils regarding:

  • Progress on representation reviews around the motu
  • A request for representation review timelines from councils
  • Aspects for councils to consider when developing initial representation proposals
  • A summary of Frequently Asked Questions arising from online drop-in sessions recently held with councils

Progress on representation reviews around the motu

Each council undertaking a review has been assigned a lead advisor from the Commission to be the main contact point throughout the review process.  Commission advisors have been contacting each council individually.

As a new initiative for this review round, we are holding online drop-in sessions for councils.  These sessions provide an opportunity for councils to share progress in their representation reviews, to discuss any challenging aspects, and to ask questions. We have held the first round of sessions, with councils grouped on a regional basis. We have been impressed with the in-depth participation and discussions generated in each session. We have included a summary of some of the ‘frequently asked questions’ from these sessions below. 

The Commission encourages all councils to conduct preliminary engagement with their communities to explore and identify communities of interest, and to test different options for representation.  Strong preliminary engagement can provide the basis for a sound representation review.  Many councils have been conducting preliminary engagement activities, and your council may have discussed different representation arrangements with you, or asked for feedback on representation matters as part of this.  Preliminary engagement is the most appropriate time for councils to be testing different representation options with the community.

All councils undertaking representation reviews must resolve their initial representation proposals between 20 December 2023 and 31 July 2024.  One council (Hurunui District) has passed its Initial Proposal, and we are aware that several other councils are intending to take this step shortly.  After councils resolve their Initial Proposal a public consultation period takes place, following which councils will resolve their final representation proposal.

A request for representation review timelines from councils

We are requesting councils to send timelines for their representation review projects, to assist us with planning. We have sought the proposed dates for:

  • Council resolutions to adopt initial and final proposals
  • Public notices of initial and final proposals
  • The consultation period following the initial proposal, including the date on which submissions close and any hearing dates; and
  • The appeals/objections period following the final proposal

As part of our preparation for representation reviews, we intend to assign each council a provisional hearing date.  This is not intended to reflect the likelihood of whether a Commission hearing will be required, rather it is intended to be a diary management tool to ensure that there is certainty for both the Commission and for councils should appeals or objections to final proposals be received and a hearing required.  These hearing dates will be cancelled if it becomes apparent that a hearing date will not be required.  We will be encouraging councils to share potential hearing dates with their mana whenua partners.

Aspects for councils to consider when developing initial representation proposals

Some councils are now moving from preliminary engagement to drafting the details of their initial representation proposal.  The initial representation proposal resolution, and the level of detail required to support it, is extensive.  Information gathered by councils during preliminary engagement, and any other information councils hold about their communities, will be valuable in providing supporting evidence for the initial representation proposal.

We have reminded councils to avoid pitfalls that we have seen in previous reviews:

  • Preparing Initial Proposals and the accompanying council report –

The Initial Proposal must cover off the requirements of section 19H and 19J (for territorial and unitary authorities) or section 19I (for regional councils) – the resolution will be a long one.  It is important that the accompanying council report clearly explains the rationale and provides evidence as to why the various aspects of the Initial Proposal have been proposed.  ‘Telling the story’ behind the council’s Initial Proposal can also assist the community to provide targeted feedback during the consultation process.

  • Carefully check the details of the Initial Proposal –

Common examples of details that have been overlooked in previous representation reviews include: 

      • Ward names – all wards must be given a name. Where councils have established a Māori ward, we have advised that now is a good time for them to be discussing potential names for a Māori ward/s with their mana whenua partners
      • Community board appointed members – if councils wish to have appointed members on community boards:
          • This must be provided for during the representation review.  If this has not happened, councila will not be able to appoint councillors to community boards at a later date;
          • The proposal should identify which ward councillors are to be appointed.  Both Māori and/or general ward councillors may be appointed, as long as the community board falls within that geographic ward area.  Where there are overlapping Māori and general wards, it may be appropriate to identify that members may be appointed from either the relevant Māori or general ward;
          • Community boards must have at least 4 and no more than 12 members.  Appointed members must make up less than half the total number of members. 

A summary of Frequently Asked Questions arising from online drop-in sessions recently held with councils

Some of the frequently asked questions we have received via online drop-in sessions incluce:

    • My council has established a Māori ward/constituency.  What population data should we be using to help develop options?

Councils should use the 2023 estimates of the Māori electoral population (MEP) and General electoral population (GEP). MEP and GEP figures are only available from Statistics NZ.

A word of caution – enrolment statistics and actual numbers of electors on either the Māori or General electoral roll are not relevant to the representation review and should not be used as the basis for developing representation options.

    • My council’s preferred representation arrangements are likely to fall outside the +/-10% rule.  What should we do?

We encourage councils to strive for compliance with the +/-10% rule, however the Local Electoral Act recognises that departure from this may be necessary to ensure effective representation for communities of interest – the relevant exceptions can be found in section 19V.  If a council's proposal is outside +/-10%, it will come to the Commission for determination and the council will need to provide evidence supporting the non-compliance.

We encourage councils to carefully consider:

        • What particular characteristics of the community mean that departure from the +/-10% rule is required for effective representation?
        • Are there options for representation arrangements that would be compliant, or would be closer to compliant?  If so, compare these options against the council’s preferred representation arrangements and consider which arrangements results in more effective representation and why?
    • My council is considering reducing councillor numbers to increase councillor remuneration.  Can we do this?

Remuneration can often come up when elected members are deciding total councillor numbers.  The Commission does not consider representation reviews an appropriate mechanism to address remuneration issues. 

If a council is considering reducing councillor numbers, it will need to clearly explain how the reduced number provides for more effective representation of communities of interest.


Ngā mihi

The Local Government Commission Team

The information contained in this update is intended to support well-informed council decisions and good practice throughout the representation review process.  Specific representation arrangements are decisions for each council.  The information is provided by Commission officials and does not reflect a particular view or preference of the Commission for any specific representation arrangement.  Where representation is determined by the Commission, each determination is considered on its own merit taking into account the information available to the Commission.