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Hawke’s Bay – opportunity to lift whole region’s performance

Date: 26 November 2013

A proposal designed to lift the performance of Hawke’s Bay by providing strong leadership through integrated local government is now open to public submission.

The Local Government Commission has released its draft proposal, after considering applications from the community and from local authorities and conducting wide consultation.

The Commission is proposing a ‘whole of Hawke’s Bay’ approach involving one council supported by a layer of boards which would have the power to represent established communities of the region.

The draft proposal is:

  • One council and one mayor who could speak with one voice for Hawke’s Bay.
  • A layer of boards empowered to represent distinct local communities.
  • The new Hawke’s Bay Council would replace Wairoa District Council, Napier City Council, Hastings District Council, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. It would also include a small area of Rangitikei District.
  • Nine councillors would be elected from five wards to ensure region-wide representation. The mayor would be elected at large by all Hawke’s Bay voters.
  • The Council would have five community boards with 37 elected members. The wards and community boards would share the same boundaries. Their proposed names are Wairoa, Ngaruroro, Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay.
  • The views of the large Māori population would be heard through a standing council committee (Māori Board) comprising representatives nominated by local iwi and elected members of council. The existing Māori committee dealing with management of natural resources would be retained.
  • Hawke’s Bay Council administrative headquarters is initially proposed to be in Napier. There would be service centres in Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, Waipawa and Waipukurau.
  • Existing council debt and financial arrangements would be ring-fenced for at least six years to the communities which incurred them or benefit from them. Current regional assets would be transferred to Hawke’s Bay Council.
  • Hawke’s Bay Council would be a unitary authority, combining the functions of city, district and regional councils. It would have 47 elected members: one for every 3,286 people (excluding the mayor). Under current arrangements there are 57 elected members: one for every 2,852 people.

The Chair of the Local Government Commission, Basil Morrison, said Hawke’s Bay local authorities face challenges and opportunities which are best addressed through reorganisation of council structures.

“A single council for Hawke’s Bay gives the entire region the best option for dealing with future trends in population movement and economic development,” Mr Morrison said.

“We made six visits to Hawke’s Bay after receiving the original application from A Better Hawke’s Bay Trust. The most common theme raised by affected and interested groups was how to lift the potential of the whole region.”

“We heard concerns that the region’s development was being held back by rivalry and lack of co-operation between local authorities. These concerns included Hawke’s Bay’s inability to speak with one voice or to function as a coherent whole.

“The region has two distinct but closely related halves: the rural hinterland of Wairoa, rural Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay; and the urbanised centres of Napier and Hastings. Realising the full benefit for the region requires recognition that these halves are interdependent.

“The rural economies are and will remain very important for the well-being of the whole region. However they require good quality infrastructure services to reach their full potential. These include transportation facilities such as the port which is located in Napier but serves the whole region.

“Another common theme from the alternative applications was the need to preserve the special identities of established communities. We have done that with the region-wide tier of community boards, which would be empowered to make decisions on matters that directly affect those local communities,” Mr Morrison said.

Public Submissions

The Local Government Commission (LGC) is calling for public submissions on the draft proposal. The deadline for submissions is 7 March 2014. The Commission intends to hold public hearings in Hawke’s Bay and submitters may appear in person.

The draft proposal document can be found on the LGC website and will also be supplied to local councils who will be encouraged to make copies available for inspection in council offices and public libraries. Digital copies can be obtained on request from info@lgc.govt.nz. Guidelines for making a public submission are on page 53 of the proposal. Further background to the process can be found at the LGC website: www.lgc.govt.nz .

Note for editors

The Local Government Commission is an independent body which makes decisions on local authority electoral matters and applications to change boundaries, functions and areas of local authorities. The Commissioners are appointed by the Minister of Local Government. The legislation they operate under, Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002, can be accessed here.