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Second voice for region unlikely

Adrienne Staples. PHOTO/FILE

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The possibility of stronger Wairarapa representation on the Greater Wellington Regional Council looks unlikely after the GWRC proposed to keep the status quo of just one representative at a recent meeting.

Wairarapa’s only regional councillor, Adrienne Staples, said the council opted for the norm as the Local Government Commission’s strict population criteria came in to play.

However, submissions are open for public feedback which could sway the council’s choice.

Every six years, the regional council’s representation is reviewed.

Since 2007, Wairarapa has only been represented by one councillor, with the LGC rejecting an additional member for Wairarapa due to its population percentage across the greater Wellington region.

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

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

Staples told the Times-Age in June that Wairarapa should be seen as an extraordinary case due to its large area.

Representation is calculated by the average population per representative across the region, and that population per member has to be plus or minus 10 per cent of the average.

LGC acting chief executive Donald Riezebos said if Wairarapa had two members, that would be outside the threshold.

“If you were to give Wairarapa two members, that would make the member-to-population ratio minus 39 per cent . . . that would have an effect on other areas [in the region].

“If Wairarapa had a higher population or bigger proportion of the region’s population, then it would be a different case.”

However, there were still two more steps of consultation that could see changes different to what was proposed, he said.

Staples said that the council agreed that proposing another councillor for the region was against the Local Electoral Act 2001, and it had already been declined twice before.

“So we saw no point in putting a lot of effort into something that doesn’t meet legislative requirements,” she said. “I mean, at the end of the day to go against the legislation it would be a decision made by the Local

Government Commission and they have already said no twice.”

Staples said Wairarapa was a large area for one representative to cover, “but it’s not impossible”.

Submissions on the regional council’s proposal close on September 26.

For more information, go to gw.govt.nz/representationreview

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