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The Local Government Commission has today received confirmation of a valid petition for a poll on its proposal for a Wairarapa District Council and a postal vote will be held closing at midday on Tuesday 12 December.

Commission chair Sir Wira Gardiner said that the Commission was pleased to receive the petition and confirm the poll will go ahead.

“This is a significant proposal for local government arrangements and should have the mandate of the people of the Wairarapa if it is to proceed. There will now be a poll on whether there is a new combined Wairarapa District Council, and that is good for local democracy,’’ Sir Wira said.

“Having an outcome on the proposal in December will also give the people in Wairarapa, and in particular council members and staff, certainty about their council arrangements as they go off for their Christmas break.’’

A successful petition required the signatures of 10 per cent of registered electors from any one of the three districts and today Mr Lampp, the electoral officer for the district, confirmed that the required 1,832 for the Masterton district had been validated.

Postal ballots will be sent out three weeks ahead of the poll closing date and preliminary results can be expected late on the same day, 12 December.

If 50 per cent or more of ballots from across the Wairarapa oppose the proposal, it will not go ahead and there is no further action. The local government arrangements for the Wairarapa remain as they are now, with three separate district councils. If more than 50 per cent support the proposal it goes ahead and we will start the process of setting up a new combined Wairarapa District Council.

“When the ballot papers begin to arrive in mid-to-late November, we encourage people across the community to participate in the poll and help shape the future of the Wairarapa,’’ Sir Wira said.

What happens next

From 20 November: Postal voting documents sent out

12 December: Poll closes at noon and preliminary results released later that day

12 December: If the poll rejects the proposal, the process halts and the status quo remains

Early 2018: If the poll endorses the final proposal, a transition body will be formed. This would include representatives of the three current Wairarapa councils

October 2018 (at the earliest): Election of the new council. This will 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

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.
  • 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 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.

The final proposal can be viewed at www.lgc.govt.nz. Copies are also available on request to the Local Government Commission at info@lgc.govt.nz; or by phoning 04 460 2228.

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