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Visit the Local Government Commission website for a full overview of the proposal , the details, and what happens next.

On Tuesday 18th July, the Local Government Commission briefed the three Wairarapa councils on the final proposal of the Wairarapa District Council.

Local Government Commission Chair Sir Wira Gardiner says the fate of a final proposal released today – for a combined Wairarapa District Council – lies in the hands of the Wairarapa public.

“The Commission is confident that the final proposal it has released today will have many advantages for the Wairarapa in capturing opportunities now and meeting the challenges of the future,’’ Sir Wira said. “There is strong support across the Wairarapa for the proposal.

“Whether it goes ahead or not is now up to the Wairarapa, which can call for a poll. A simple majority will determine the outcome.’’

Under the proposal the three existing Wairarapa councils – South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton District Councils – would be combined into one medium-sized local authority, called the Wairarapa District Council. Regional council functions in the district would continue to be carried out by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Sir Wira said that he and his fellow commissioners had reached their decision after careful deliberation.

“The Commission has listened to local government leaders, councillors, iwi, business leaders, the rural sector, community leaders and residents from all walks of life throughout the Wairarapa,’’ he said.  “We have also considered expert evidence, and conducted independent surveys to seek a range of views from across the district.’’

Sir Wira said that the Commission had been assisted in reaching its decision by all the people who had engaged in the reorganisation process over the past two years. This included those who had attended public meetings, drop-in centres or information stands, others who had made written submissions or spoken at a hearing, or simply read and commented on the Commission’s materials.

“We wish to thank all the members of the Wairarapa community who have helped us get to this point. We feel privileged to have heard strong and considered views from across the spectrum.

“It is obvious to us that many in the Wairarapa care passionately about local governance, and I’d like to pay particular tribute to those whose robust and thoughtfully composed opposing submissions challenged us to consider the evidence carefully.

“We have done so and are convinced the final proposal will deliver better local government for the Wairarapa including strong democratic local decision-making, cost-effective infrastructure and efficient services. We are happy now to hand it over the Wairarapa people – who we fully expect will want to have the final say by requesting a poll.

“We encourage the community to exercise its democratic rights in this respect. This is your chance to shape the future of your district and your community.’’

Carterton Mayor John Booth agrees that the decision needs to be made by the Wairarapa community. “I believe Carterton will initiate a petition to push for a poll. This is the time where we have the ability to exercise our democratic right to vote.” Mayor John Booth is also encouraging the community to discuss the amalgamation. “Chat to everyone, especially our youth. This decision is about the future of the Wairarapa and we need to make sure we are including young people in our discussions.”

 What is proposed – in brief

  • A new council is proposed, called Wairarapa District Council. It would replace the existing three district councils: South Wairarapa District Council, Carterton District Council and Masterton District Council.
  • The new council would have a mayor and 12 councillors. The mayor would be elected by voters across the Wairarapa district and councillors would be elected by voters in seven wards, including two rural wards.
  • There would be five community boards: Featherston, Martinborough, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton. Each board would have four or five elected community board members representing the respective wards.
  • For at least its first term, the new council would be required to have a rural standing committee and a Māori standing committee as a means of promoting effective council representation for rural communities, and marae, hapū and iwi respectively.
  • The new Wairarapa District Council would be a territorial authority. The Wairarapa would remain part of the Wellington region with the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) continuing its current roles and responsibilities. There would be a new Wairarapa Committee of the GWRC to strengthen Wairarapa input into regional council issues affecting the district.
  • For at least five years, the new council would be required to maintain area offices in Martinborough, Carterton and Masterton. Staff would continue to be located in the area offices to ensure people can access council services across the Wairarapa. The address for service (“principal office’’), for the new council would be Masterton.
  • If electors request a poll (see guidelines below) and if a simple majority supports the proposal, the new Wairarapa Council could be elected in late 2018, at the earliest, and would serve an initial four-year term.

     What happens next?

    November 2017-February 2018: If a poll is sought, the poll would be held about three months after the validation of a poll petition

    Early 2018, at the earliest: If a poll endorses the final proposal (or a poll is not called for), a transition body would be formed. This would include representatives of the three current Wairarapa councils, iwi and an independent chair.

    October 2018-October 2019: Election of the new council. If the new council were elected in October 2018, it would have an initial four-year term to bring it back into line with the three-yearly election cycle

    October 2022: Council election as part of the usual three-yearly election cycle

     Public poll on a final proposal

    Electors of the affected districts can now call for a poll on the proposal. This is done by presenting the Commission with a valid petition signed by 10 per cent or more of the electors from one of South Wairarapa, Carterton or Masterton districts by 11 October 2017. The petition must be in the prescribed form and each person who signs a petition must state, against his or her signature, their name and address in sufficient detail to enable the person to be identified as an elector.

    If 50 per cent or more of poll voters from across the Wairarapa oppose the proposal, it will not go ahead and there is no further action. If more than 50 per cent support the proposal, or if there isn’t a valid request for a poll, the proposal goes ahead.

    The poll would be a postal vote conducted in the same manner as the local government elections. Voting papers are sent out by an electoral officer and people have about three weeks to return them.

    The timing of the poll depends on when a petition is received and validated. This could be November/December 2017 at the earliest or mid February 2018 at the latest.

Visit the Local Government Commission website for a full overview of the proposal , the details, and what happens next.

Copies of the final proposal are available at www.lgc.govt.nz and are available for viewing at Carterton District Council Office and Carterton Library on Holloway St. Copies are also available on request to the Local Government Commission at info@lgc.govt.nz; or by phoning 04 460 2228.