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Current arrangements, options for representation

Current MDC wardsCurrent representation arrangements

The District is currently represented by a Mayor and 10 Councillors. The Councillors are elected from three wards.

The Northern Manawatu Rural Ward elects two Councillors, the Feilding Ward elects five Councillors and the Southern Manawatu Rural Ward elects three Councillors. There are no community boards.

Population / Member Ratios

One of the factors that the Council must consider when dealing with representation reviews is the ratio between the population of an area and the number of members elected to represent it.

The membership of wards are required to provide approximate population equality per member, within a range of +/- 10 per cent.

The population numbers used are estimates as at 30 June 2017 provided by Statistics New Zealand.

Using the updated population numbers provided, the Manawatu District’s Ward structure no longer complies so some change is likely to be required.

Options for representation

Councillors can be elected from Wards, from across the District as a whole, or from a mixture of both. Whether elected from Wards, or from across the District as a whole, all Councillors take an oath to act in the best interests of the Manawatu District. The Council recently agreed to establish a Māori Ward for electoral purposes. This is the same as the general electoral wards in that it allows a subset of our residents to vote for someone to represent them, but instead of being determined by geography (South, Feilding, North) it is determined by whether a resident is on the Māori electoral roll or the General electoral roll. This representation review is focussed on how Councillors are elected by residents on the General electoral roll.

Adopting a Ward-based system for electing Councillors can be seen to ensure fair representation across the District: giving comfort that elected Councillors would come from all parts of the District.

The "at large" option for electing Councillors can be seen to give a wider choice of candidates for electors to vote for rather than restricting them to voting only for candidates from one area of the District. It can also be seen to remove any perceptions of parochialism from Council deliberations.

A mixed system where some Councillors are elected from Wards, and some from across the District can be seen to provide a balance between representation of District-wide interests and local concerns.

When selecting the number of Councillors that will make up the Manawatu District Council the minimum number of members for a Council is 6 and the maximum number is 30. However if choosing a ward-based system, the number of Councillors needs to comply with the population:member ratio requirements. Manawatu District Council currently has a larger number of Councillors than one of its neighbouring Councils, the same number as another neighbouring Council, and a lesser number of Councillors than the other three neighbouring Councils (Tararua District Council = 8 Councillors; Horowhenua District Council = 10 Councillors; Rangitikei District Council = 11 Councillors; Whanganui District Council = 12 Councillors; and Palmerston North City Council = 15 Councillors).

The approximate ratio of elected members to population for each of these Councils is:

  • Manawatu District Council 1:2772
  • Tararua District Council 1:2171
  • Horowhenua District Council 1:3063
  • Rangitikei District Council 1:1274
  • Whanganui District Council 1:3512
  • Palmerston North City Council 1:5633

A smaller elected body can be seen to enable more efficient decision making, however on the other hand a larger elected body can be seen to provide better diversity of representation

Questions to ponder

  • Do you agree that the current Ward boundaries appropriately group communities of interest together?
  • If not, what changes would you propose be made?
  • Do you agree that we have the right number of elected members to represent the interests of our District?
  • If not, what do you see as the right number of elected members?
  • Do you agree that our Councillors should continue to be elected solely from Wards?
  • If not, which of the following alternative methods of election would you prefer?
    • Election “at large” across the District;
    • A mix of some Councillors elected from Wards and some elected “at large” across the District

Continue reading...

Process for feedback

The feedback period has now ended.

Formal consultation with the community on Council’s initial proposal will take place from 2 August 2018 to 3 September 2018. Council will then consider any issues raised through submissions prior to deciding on its final representation proposal in October 2018.