In November 2017, the majority of the Western Bay of Plenty District councillors voted to establish one or more Māori wards. This was decision was overturned as a result of a binding referendum. In response, the Council indicated it would consider feedback and go back to the community with an initial proposal for future representation arrangements in the second half of 2018, which they have now done so. The initial proposal was notified publicly on 24 July, with the formal public consultation period open until 5pm Friday 24 August 2018.
The initial proposal can be viewed in the Representation Review document, available HERE
The proposed changes to council structure are very concerning. The council is proposing a move to disestablish the current five elected community boards, to be replaced by three ward-based community committees with membership being the relevant ward councillors, and appointed, (i.e. not elected), community representatives from identified communities of interest within the ward.
“A community committee is a committee of Council, but members are not elected under the Local Electoral Act. Candidates would be nominated from the community through an expression of interest-style process. Council would make the appointments to the committee to ensure wide community representation”. (Representation Review p.8)
This plan to replace representatives elected by communities with appointed members is an attack on the community’s fundamental democratic rights.
The citizens of the Western Bay of Plenty have been invited to have a say, with submissions due by 24th August. To find out the details, please click here: https://haveyoursay.westernbay.govt.nz/initialproposal