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Boundary change U-turn

Tauherenikau (the home of Wairarapa racing) and Kahutara were to be classed part of Featherston, instead of Greytown and Martinborough respectively, but the South Wairarapa District Council has U-turned on their earlier decision. PHOTO/FILE

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South Wairarapa District Council has done a U-turn on its decision to alter the Featherston, Greytown, and Martinborough boundaries.

At a full council meeting, councillors agreed to redraw the borders of the three South Wairarapa towns – areas Tauherenikau and Kahutara were to be classed part of Featherston, instead of Greytown and Martinborough respectively.

This decision was made on the back of five submissions in response to the Representation Review, which local authorities must carry out every six years.

These submissions indicated that many in the Tauherenikau and Kahutara communities associated strongly with Featherston, however they were not able to engage with the community board that represented their interests.

At the extraordinary council meeting on October 24, councillors decided to set up a working party to decide and define the new boundaries.

However, the party changed its mind when it met last Friday.

“Following this detailed analysis, the council decided to retain the status quo regarding ward boundaries,” a statement from SWDC read.

Councillors reflected on the fact that only eight people submitted on the review.

In comparison, the 2006 Representation Review received 190 submissions, which did result in changes to the ward boundaries.

Wards are made up by meshblocks, a term defined by Statistics New Zealand as being the smallest geographic unit for which statistical data is collected and processed by Statistics NZ.

It is a defined area, varying in size from part of a city block to large areas of rural land, with each meshblock bordering on another to form a network covering all of New Zealand.

The council analysed boundary maps and population numbers.

It concluded that meshblocks made it tricky to change ward boundaries and did not always reflect the district’s communities of interest.

“Councillors at the workshop agreed to discuss with Statistics NZ the possibility of changing meshblock boundaries in the future, with a view to more closely aligning them with communities of interest.”

SWDC will undertake a further representation review in three years, which will take into account the latest census figures and the council’s spatial plan work, a long-term strategy which sets out the strategic direction for communities.

The council is proposing to retain its status quo of nine councillors, a mayor elected at large, the three wards of Martinborough, Featherston, and Greytown, and a community board for each town.

The eight previous submitters have until December 3 to appeal this proposal.

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