< May 2022 newsletter

Urgent judicial review of discriminatory Rotorua Council Bill

“It is premature to declare victory over the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill”, writes Rotorua Councillor Reynold Macpherson.  “It has not been withdrawn, only ‘paused’. If you want to defend democracy against co-governance, please submit an Affidavit in Support of a private citizen’s application for a judicial review”.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick used her casting vote in a public-excluded meeting of Council on 28 April to prevent a withdrawal of the Bill. She then used her casting vote in favour of a ‘pause’ to, as she put it, to “allow council officers to work with legal advisors, parliamentary and government advisors, on strengthening the policy work of the Local Bill.”

Robert Lee’s application for a judicial review was filed on Friday 29 April 2022 and is currently before a High Court judge. You can read the Statement of Claim here. It claims that Council’s 19 November 2021 decision to submit the Local Bill to Parliament was, for various reasons, procedurally unfair and illegal. Robert is asking the court to act urgently, in May, before the Bill can become law.

If you wish to support Robert's Judicial Review you may sign an Affidavit in Support and forward it on to him. How? Go to RDRR’s website at www.rdrr.nz - Sign an affidavit in support of Robert Lee’s Judicial Review

That is how you can help kill the bill and save democracy in New Zealand local government.

For more information view the RDRR website


Background to the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill.

On 19 November 2021, Rotorua District Council decided to submit a Local Bill to Parliament proposing three councillor seats in a Māori Ward, three seats in a General Ward and four seats to be elected At Large. This proved to be highly controversial. On 28 April 2022, the Mayor used her casting vote to prevent Council withdrawing the Bill from Parliament.

“Council’s elected members are as divided as our community is over the Bill,” said Cr Reynold Macpherson, also RDRR Chairman and Mayoral Candidate. Cr Peter Bentley’s resignation shows that our local government of disunity is willing to use elder abuse to silence critics. They want to replace democratic equal suffrage with voter parity to get co-governance. But the Attorney-General has found that the Bill would discriminate on ethnic lines, cannot be justified, and like many others, believes that any such legislation may be better considered in full by central government and Parliament.”

The so-called ‘pause’ in Parliament could give the Bill’s promoters time to revise it and possibly ram it through ‘under urgency’, he said.  To safeguard democracy, RDRR wants to kill the bill. They are supporting a private citizen’s call for an urgent judicial review of the 19 November 2021 decision. 

“The appropriate papers have been served on Council and in the High Court seeking urgent injunctive relief to set aside the Council’s decision to seek statutory reform,” said Robert Lee, an RDRR-endorsed candidate for Rotorua District Council. “In our view the process was procedurally unfair because it was predetermined, and the majority of elected members were biased in favour of this type of electoral model (co-governance).”

It was also illegal, he said, because Council had an improper purpose of seeking to rig the election, did not follow the statutory principles of consultation, sought to limit rights and freedoms set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights, and the Fenton Agreement, Te Tiriti and co-governance were irrelevant considerations.

The judicial review has just been filed in the High Court and served on Council. The Statement of Claim and Application for Injunctive Relief are available. RDRR invites all members, associates, and friends, especially those in Saving Springfield and Restore Rotorua, to help by donating $30 or multiples of $30 to its ANZ account 06 0413 0524259 00. Thank you. 

It is imperative that Rotorua has a free and fair democratic election in October.


Reynold Macpherson, 07 346 8553, 021 725 708, [email protected]

Robert Lee, 07 347 6200, 021 347 620, [email protected]


Report of the ATTORNEY-GENERAL under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill

Media coverage

RNZ: Labour support falters as Rotorua electoral bill ‘fallen foul’ of Bill of Rights

RNZ:  Māori ward fallout: Councillor Peter Bentley resigns during stormy meeting


Go back to the May 2022 newsletter


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Time to Vote - Local Body Elections 2019

Voting in local body elections is under way, with the poll closing noon 12 October. With the push for co-governance and partnership arrangements gathering speed, there’s a lot riding on our choices this election. The next three years will make a huge difference to our future. Continue reading

Local Body Elections 2019

The Democracy Action working group is preparing a set of questions to ask candidates. Please take the opportunity to call radio shows with guest candidates, and attend public meetings, to ask a question or two. Continue reading