Date: 17 June 2013
The application by Wairarapa councils to reorganise local government has progressed through another step.
The Local Government Commission has made several decisions relating to the application by Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils to form a unitary authority which would also assume responsibilities of the Greater Wellington Regional Council in the Wairarapa.
The Wairarapa councils’ application proposes a unitary authority comprising a mayor and twelve councillors, elected from seven wards to ensure good geographical distribution and local participation. It also proposes the use of committees to address matters of special interest, such as Māori issues and rural issues.
The Commission has declared the districts of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa; a small part of Tararua District currently within Wellington Region but proposed to be transferred to Manawatū-Whanganui Region; and the balance of the Wellington Region are affected areas under the application.
The Commission decided the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) would be materially affected in terms of its operational scale, scope and capability under the proposed application.
Eighty-eight GWRC staff are based in Masterton, 21 per cent of Council employees. The area of land GWRC administers would reduce by 72 per cent, affecting environmental and flood management operations. The changes could affect GWRC’s ability to attract and retain specialist staff, which would impact on the capacity of GWRC.
In other decisions, the Commission has agreed to assess the application. It is satisfied there is demonstrable community support in the district of each affected territorial authority for local government reorganisation in Wellington Region. The legislation does not require evidence of majority support.
The Commission will continue to assess levels of community support for reorganisation in the Wellington Region and for particular options that may be identified during the process. At each step in this process the Commission will need to continue to satisfy itself on the existence of demonstrable community support.
The Commission has also decided to defer public notification of the application and to defer calling for alternative applications, pending the expected receipt and consideration of a further reorganisation application(s) relating to the Wellington Region.
The GWRC has advised the Commission it intends lodging a reorganisation application. The Commission will await this application and consider whether it meets necessary requirements. If so, the Commission will concurrently undertake the public notification of both the Wairarapa and Wellington applications.
The next stages of the process are as follows (legislative terms in bold):
In any event, no change would be made before the next local authority elections in October 2013. Guidelines on the reorganisation process are available at www.lgc.govt.nz
There are five unitary authorities in New Zealand: Auckland, Gisborne, Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman. Auckland is the most recent council to combine the two levels of local authority functions. The others became unitary authorities at varying times: Gisborne 1989; and Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman in 1992. The Chatham Islands Council also effectively operates as a unitary authority, as it is not within a region.
All other local authorities in the country work under a two tier framework of regional and district councils which have separate regulatory and planning responsibilities.
Chief Executive Officer
Local Government Commission
Phone +64 4 460 2202
Senior Communications Advisor
Local Government Commission
Phone +64 4 460 2235
The Local Government Commission is an independent body tasked with making decisions on local authority electoral matters and all applications relating to changes to existing boundaries, functions and areas of local authorities.
Its members are Basil Morrison, Grant Kirby and Anne Carter. They are appointed by the Minister of Local Government.
The legislation governing reorganisation of local authorities, Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002, can be accessedhere.