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South Wairarapa residents put their case for rural ward

A rural ward is on the wish list for a group of South Wairarapa residents who say it will ensure “the diverse needs of all residents are met”.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] is currently undertaking a representation review to ensure its communities are fairly represented at the council table.

A review is required every six years under the Local Government Act and must consider things like how many elected members there are, community boards, and ward names and their boundaries.

The current council arrangement is a mayor and nine councillors: three from each of the Greytown, Featherston, and Martinborough wards.

Warren Woodgyer, who is deputy chair of the Greytown Community Board, has given feedback to the council on behalf of himself, Mike Gray, Perry Cameron, Claire Bleakley, Mary Tipoki, and Jim Hedley, who form the group Citizens for Democratic Quality Community Governance.

Woodgyer said they believe introducing a rural ward would “significantly benefit our community by ensuring that the unique needs and concerns of rural residents are adequately represented and addressed”.

The total population of South Wairarapa is 11,900, with 4260 of these people living rurally, Woodgyer said.

The group proposes that, based on population, there should be three councillors elected from a rural ward, and two councillors elected from each of the Featherston, Greytown, and Martinborough wards.

“Rural councillors can advocate more effectively for the specific needs of rural communities, such as agricultural issues, land management, and rural infrastructure,” Woodgyer said.

“Representation by individuals who understand the distinct challenges faced by rural areas ensure these issues are not overlooked.”

As part of the representation review, SWDC voted to introduce a Māori Ward for the 2025 election, so this will need to be included in any final structure.

The proposed arrangement will be approved by the council’s Strategy Working Committee on July 3 and will then go out for public consultation.

Hearings and deliberations will be held in September with a view to confirm the representation option in early October.

Each elected member should represent roughly the same number of people.

The population of each ward, divided by the number of members to be elected by their ward, must produce a figure no more than 10 per cent greater or smaller than the population of the district, divided by the total of elected members.

For example, if the population of a district is 10,000 people and there are 10 elected councillors, the arrangement of wards and councillors must be organised so that each councillor represents about 1000 people.

-NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism
funded through NZ On Air

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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