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Hopes of another voice for region

Adrienne Staples: There is an enormous amount of work that is delivered in Wairarapa by the regional council . . . there is an extraordinary reason why we need two representatives. PHOTO/FILE

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Wairarapa’s sole regional councillor is hoping the region will be treated as an “extraordinary” case when another seat for the region is put forward.

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s meeting on Wednesday discussed the need for another Wairarapa representative on the council.

Adrienne Staples, the Wairarapa councillor, said the workload for one person was demanding.

While she did her best to be the sole voice for the region, two voices were better than one, she said.

The three district council mayors were also keen to see more representation for their region for the benefit of the councils as well as ratepayers.

Wairarapa has a population of about 44,500 and a land area of nearly 75 per cent of the regional council boundaries.

Since 2007, Wairarapa has only been represented on the Greater Wellington Regional Council by one councillor.

Wairarapa was represented by two councillors from 1989 to 2007, but at the time of review, the Local Government Commission reduced it.

Last year, the LGC readdressed the issue, and made a statement saying it was aware of the regional council’s concern about Wairarapa’s representation on the council.

However, due to the strict population criteria, the Local Electoral Act 2001 did not allow for another councillor.

Mrs Staples said the consideration for another councillor should not only be based on population, but rather the land area.

“The argument that I have always put forward for needing more representation over here is that the regional council’s work is not just about people, it’s about the environment, and we have three-quarters of the environment over here as a land area,” she said.

“There is an enormous amount of work that is delivered in Wairarapa by the regional council, so I believe that there should opportunity here for the Local Government Commission to rule that there is an extraordinary reason why we need two representatives.”

Reflecting on her workload, Mrs Staples said the region’s people expected to be at events such as river scheme meetings.

But covering three district councils, more than any other regional councillor, proved for a busy schedule, she said.

“I’m not complaining, but boy it takes a bit of covering for one person.”

Regional council chairman Chris Laidlaw was “totally in favour” of another Wairarapa councillor around the table.

Mr Laidlaw put forward the recommendation to council at Wednesday’s meeting.

“The case for Wairarapa is an extreme one,” he said.

Carterton Mayor John Booth and Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson both agreed it was time for Wairarapa to have a stronger voice from two representatives.

Mrs Patterson said while Mrs Staples fought hard for Wairarapa, the workload was too much for one person.

“We need better representation particularly around the implications of the proposed Natural Resources Plan – it’s unfair to expect one councillor to represent those changes which will have huge implications for Wairarapa.”

Mr Booth said the district councils and the ratepayers would benefit from a second councillor.

“I think we need to have another person feeding back into the council what the people are saying here,” he said.

The council is made up of 13 members. Wellington City has five seats, Lower Hutt, three, Porirua-Tawa, two, and one each for Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt and Wairarapa.

The council will put the review out for submissions with a final proposal to be considered by a hearing committee in August.

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