Date: 22 May 2013
The Local Government Commission confirms it has received an application to reorganise the three Wairarapa local authorities into a single council. It has also spelled out the process that must now be followed.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Donald Riezebos, said the Wairarapa application is the third received by the Commission since new legislation was passed late last year.
“The Commission anticipates the application may draw responses from other local authorities in the Wellington region but the Wairarapa councils are officially the first out of the blocks and will now trigger a process for examining reorganisation in the region,” said Mr Riezebos.
“The Commission is aware of media coverage as to the possibilities of reorganising other councils in the rest of the region, but it would be inappropriate to comment on the implications of the Wairarapa proposal for other councils’ decision-making.”
The Commission is currently also considering reorganisation applications affecting four councils in Northland and five councils in Hawke’s Bay.
Mr Riezebos noted that an alternative Hawke’s Bay proposal includes part of the Wairarapa but he declined to comment further as the Hawke’s Bay reorganisation process is already underway and must be allowed to run its course.
“The three independent Commissioners who are considering the reorganisation proposals are all very experienced and respected in local authority matters and will approach the task with an open mind,” said Mr Riezebos.
Mr Riezebos said the process for changing local government structures, boundaries and functions is set out in Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002 and there are a number of distinct steps that must be followed.
“A number of these stages require community consultation and demonstrations of community support. The final decision on local government reorganisation in an area will be in the hands of electors of the area if they demand a poll.”
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 accessed here.