Mō ngā arotake whakaahuahanga About representation reviews

An overview of what representation reviews are and their process.

Māori Wards Updates 

The Local Government (Electoral Legislation and Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill, introduced to Parliament on 20 May 2024, proposes changes affecting Māori wards and constituencies, and this year’s representation process for some councils. We will endeavour to keep our website up to date with new information about the Bill as we receive it.

You can read the Bill here: Local Government (Electoral Legislation and Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill (legislation.govt.nz) 


Every three years, elections are held for local authorities. This includes for mayors, councillors, community board members, and local board members. These are often called "the triennial local authority elections".

In order to achieve fair and effective representation at these elections, local authorities are required by the Local Electoral Act 2001 to review their representation arrangements at least once every six years.

A representation review addresses the total number of councillors there should be for the district or region and the way they are elected. In the case of territorial authorities, this involves deciding whether councillors are elected from wards or 'at large' across the whole district, or by a mix of both wards and 'at large'. A review also covers the boundaries of wards and constituencies, and their names. In the case of territorial authorities, a review also needs to address whether there should be community boards in the district and, if so, the number of boards; their names and boundaries; the number of members for each board, including any appointed members; and whether the board area should be subdivided for electoral purposes.

For the Auckland Council, a representation review will also cover the membership arrangements for its current 21 local boards.

The review process in brief

A council's initial representation review proposal must be publicly notified no later than 8 September in the year before an election.

Any person or organisation can make a submission on a council's proposal. If a council receives no submissions, the proposal becomes the basis for election at the next triennial election and the council gives public notice accordingly.

If the council receives submissions, it considers these and may change its proposal as a result. If a person or organisation who made a submission is not satisfied with the council's amended final proposal, they can appeal against it. Alternatively, if a council changes its proposal, any person or organisation (whether or not they made a submission) may object to those changes.

If there are no appeals or objections, the proposal becomes the basis of election at the next triennial election and the council must give public notice accordingly.

If a council receives any appeal or objection, it must refer its proposal to the Local Government Commission for determination along with the appeals and objections received.

In addition, if a council proposes to not comply with the statutory fair representation requirement for one or more of its wards, community subdivisions or constituencies, it must refer its proposal to the Commission, whether or not it has received any appeals or objections. The fair representation requirement (also known as the '+/- 10% rule') is designed to achieve approximate equality of population representation by each member of a council or board. The following representation tables set out the current population/member ratios for all areas.

Representation tables: population to member ratios (XLS, 108 KB)

The council must forward all appeals and objections and, where appropriate, refers its non-complying proposal to the Commission no later than 15 January in the year of the election.

Where there have been appeals or objections, the Commission has a quasi-judicial role to determine all the representation arrangements for that local authority in terms of the fair and effective representation principles of the Local Electoral Act. It takes into account the council's initial and final proposals, and the submissions, appeals and objections received.

In the case where a council's proposal does not comply with fair representation requirements and no appeals/objections are received, the Commission will determine the representation arrangements for the ward, community subdivision or constituency concerned only.

The Commission must issue all its determinations no later than 11 April of the election year. These determinations become the basis of election for the council concerned at the next triennial election.

A Commission determination can be appealed to the High Court on a point of law. The appeal must be lodged within one month of the date of the Commission's determination. A Commission determination may also be subject to judicial review in relation to the process followed.

Representation review guidelines

To assist local authorities undertaking representation reviews and members of the public who want to participate in the review process, the Commission has prepared representation review guidelines which can be found here:

Guidelines: Representation reviews (PDF, 1.6 MB)

The Commission has also prepared a diagrammatic form of the review process timeline.

Timeline: Representation reviews (PDF, 98 KB)

Lastly, the Commission has highlighted a discussion paper entitled "The Concept of Community of Interest" in order to assist local authorities to identify communities of interest in their area.

Discussion paper: the concept of community of interest (PDF, 126 KB)

Other representation issues

Separate processes are followed if a local authority wants, or is required, to change its electoral system (eg from FPP to STV) or to establish Māori wards or constituencies. These matters cannot be appealed to the Commission.

A table showing the current Māori electoral population (MEP) and general electoral population (GEP) along with the number of members who would be elected from Māori wards or constituencies in each local authority (based on their current size) is also available.

Table: MEP and GEP statistics 2023 (XLS, 121 KB)

The electoral arrangements for licensing trusts are also not within the scope of the representation review process.

Minor boundary alterations

Local authorities not undertaking representation reviews prior to the next triennial elections may still make minor alterations to electoral boundaries in their district or region where there have been property boundary changes at or near existing electoral boundaries.

A local authority decision on a minor boundary alteration must be referred to the Commission for determination.

Local government boundary plans

Click here to access representation review resources