Representation review pānui 7

In this pānui:
- Progress around the motu
- Representation review timelines
- Developing initial proposals
- Online drop-in sessions – Frequently Asked Questions
- How to provide information to the Commission
20 Mar 2024

Kia ora koutou

Welcome to our latest pānui.  This update covers:

  • Progress around the motu
  • Representation review timelines
  • Developing initial proposals
  • Online drop-in sessions – Frequently Asked Questions
  • How to provide information to the Commission

Progress 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.  There are a few councils that we have not yet been able to make contact with.  If you have not yet heard from your lead advisor, please email

As a new initiative for this review round, we are holding online drop-in sessions for councils.  We have held the first round of sessions, and we thank you for the in-depth participation and discussions generated in each session. We have included some of the ‘frequently asked questions’ below, for the benefit of those who were unable to join a session.  We also invite any feedback on these sessions so that we can make them as valuable as possible. 

We are aware that many councils have been conducting preliminary engagement to explore and identify communities of interest, and to test different options for representation.  We touched on the importance of preliminary engagement in pānui 6 and pānui 3.  In particular, this is the most appropriate time to be testing different representation options with your community.

The time period for resolving initial representation proposals runs from 20 December 2023 to 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.

Representation review timelines

In pānui 4 we requested councils to send timelines for representation review projects.  Many thanks to the councils that have provided these so far.  Some councils have provided high-level timelines, however to assist with planning we are seeking specific timelines that set out 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 of which submissions close and any hearing dates; 
  • 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 be required.  These dates will be cancelled if it becomes apparent that a hearing will not be required.

Receiving detailed timelines from all councils ahead of setting provisional hearing dates will allow us to organise these in a way that suits your councils better.  It will also help us support your council at key milestones along the process.

Developing initial proposals

Some councils are now moving from preliminary engagement to drafting the details of their initial representation proposal.  We previously touched on developing initial representation proposals in pānui 3.  As noted in that pānui, the resolution, and the level of detail required to support it, is extensive.  The information you have gathered during preliminary engagement with your communities, and any other information your council holds about your communities, will be valuable in providing supporting evidence for your initial representation proposal.

A few reminders 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 your 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.  If your council has established a Māori ward, now is a good time to be discussing potential names with mana whenua partners
      • Community boards appointed members – if you wish to have appointed members on community boards:
          • This must be provided for during your representation review.  If this has not happened, your council 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. 

Online drop-in sessions - Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the frequently asked questions we have received via online drop-in sessions may be relevant to consider as you develop your council’s Initial Proposal:

    • 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 your proposal is outside +/-10%, it will come to the Commission for determination and you will need to provide evidence supporting the non-compliance.

We encourage you 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 your 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 your council is considering reducing councillor numbers, you will need to clearly explain how the reduced number provides for more effective representation of communities of interest.

Providing information to the Commission

As noted in pānui 6, we will be asking for GIS data following council decisions on both initial and final proposals.  In the event that the Commission is required to determine representation arrangements, a further request may be made for GIS data.  We encourage you to ensure GIS staff are part of your review project team.

Stats NZ has developed guidelines for the provision of geospatial data.  These are available now on our website.  Please ensure that your GIS staff are familiar with the guidelines before supplying GIS files to us.

We are currently setting up a file-share system to be able to receive documents electronically from each council.  We will contact each council individually to set up access to this system.  We ask that all documents be provided to us via this system. 

The documents we will be seeking from you following your council’s Initial Proposal are:

  • The report to council setting out the Initial Proposal
  • Minutes of the meeting at which the Initial Proposal was passed
  • GIS files of the Initial Proposal
  • The public notice of the Initial Proposal


Ngā mihi

The Local Government Commission Team

The information contained in these updates 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 merits taking into account the information available to the Commission.