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Public meetings in Northland over shape of local government

Date: 13 August 2013

Residents and ratepayers are being invited to public meetings in Northland to share their views on the future shape of local government in the region.

The Local Government Commission is considering applications to change the structure of local authorities in Northland. The proposals affect the Far North, Whangarei and Kaipara District Councils and the Northland Regional Council.

Commissioners have already made four fact-finding visits to Northland and meetings have been held with more than 40 groups and subject-matter experts. They include councils, iwi, local MPs, business groups, farming groups, industry groups, major employers, economists, infrastructure experts and local government specialists. The Commission now wants to hear the perspectives of individual members of the public.

Eleven public meetings will be held over five days from Rawene to Russell, Kaitaia to Mangawhai and six other centres in-between. Commissioners Basil Morrison and Anne Carter will outline the process to date and be available for questions from the public. The proposals do not affect the local government elections on 12 October.

Discussions at the public meetings will assist the Commission as it narrows its list of reasonably practicable options for local government in Northland before releasing a draft proposal later in the year.

Background

The original application was made by the Far North District Council (FNDC) supported by Te Tai Tokerau Iwi Leaders’ Forum. The Commission called for alternative applications and forty-one responses were received by the April 2013 deadline. A summary of those responses was posted on the Commission’s website in July. In addition to retaining the status quo, they proposed a broad mix of alternatives:

  • the union of Whangarei and Kaipara Districts, and retention of the other councils;
  • Hokianga to become a unitary authority with or without change to other councils;
  • a KaiparaHarbour territorial authority to be constituted (after October 2013 elections);
  • FNDC to become a unitary authority with status quo arrangements applying for the balance of Northland Region;
  • the three territorial authorities to become unitary authorities;
  • two unitary authorities - FNDC and Whangarei/Kaipara - for the Northland Region (as per Whangarei District Council response);
  • one unitary authority for Northland Region (as per Northland Regional Council response);
  • status quo local government arrangements (one regional council and three territorial authorities) including possible options for establishment of further community boards, shared service arrangements etc; or
  • an enhanced status quo involving the retention of existing councils with transfer(s) of particular statutory obligations between councils.

Local authorities in Northland currently work under a two-tier framework of three district councils and one regional council, with separate regulatory and planning roles. A unitary authority is a combination of the two structures. The new Auckland Council is a unitary authority and there are five other unitaries: Gisborne; Nelson; Tasman; Marlborough and the Chatham Islands.

Guidelines and further background to the reorganisation process can be found at the Local Government Commission website: www.lgc.govt.nz

Schedule of public meetings

Monday 19 August:Kerikeri Turner Centre, 12.00-1.30pm; Mangawhai Golf Club 4.00-6.00pm

Tuesday 20 August: Maungaturoto Centennial Hall 11.00am-1.00pm; Dargaville Lighthouse Function Centre 4.00-6.00pm

Wednesday 21 August:Paihia Memorial Hall 9.00-11.00am; Russell Town Hall 1.00-3.00pm; Kaikohe FNDC Council Chambers 5.00-7.00pm (broadcast via videoconf to Te Ahu Centre Kaitaia and John Butler Centre Kerikeri);

Thursday 22 August:Rawene Town Hall 9.00-11.00am; Kaitaia Te Ahu Centre 1.00-3.00pm; Whangarei Toll Stadium Meeting Rooms 6.00-8.00pm;

Friday 23 August:Whangarei Public Library, May Bain Room 10.15am-12.00pm.

Contacts

Donald Riezebos

Chief Executive Officer

Local Government Commission

Phone +64 4 460 2228

info@lgc.govt.nz

Kathryn Street

Senior Communications Advisor

Local Government Commission

Phone +64 4 460 2235

kathryn.street@dia.govt.nz

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 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.