By Alisa Yong
The results of a questionnaire commissioned by the Local Government Commission show 65 per cent of Wairarapa respondents are in favour of combining the three district councils.
Released today, the results show that out of the 1534 responses received by the LGC, a clear preference – 42 per cent – was shown for a combined district council and keeping the regional council’s role unchanged.
Only 5 per cent said they wanted a unitary council, which would have combined both regional and district council functions into one council.
The status quo was preferred by 23 per cent.
Out of the three areas, Masterton was most strongly in favour of a combined district council which kept the regional council, with 50 per cent choosing this option.
This option was also the most preferred choice of Carterton and South Wairarapa respondents, with 36 per cent and 38 per cent respectively in favour.
The commission also undertook a telephone survey of 500 Wairarapa residents.
Some 52 per cent of telephone respondents preferred combining the three district councils, 34 per cent preferred no change, 12 per cent supported a unitary council, and 2 per cent were unsure.
LGC chairman Sir Wira Gardiner said the commission had engaged extensively with Wairarapa people.
“Working constructively alongside the Mayoral Forum and the councils we were able to identify several work streams that could potentially make a difference to individual communities and to the region as a whole.
“We have been able to make significant progress on each of them.”
However, the results do not necessarily mean a combined district council is a foregone conclusion.
The commission said it will be doing more work with experts and the councils before it issues a draft proposal.
If the commission decides to issue a final proposal for a combined Wairarapa council, a poll may still be demanded by 10 per cent of the affected electors enrolled in any affected district.
It is expected the commission will release a draft proposal in early 2017.
If the proposal is successful, a new combined council would be elected in late 2018.
Combined Wairarapa council chosen as preferred option
By Alisa Yong