New era: one district, one council
My views on why I voted for one district-wide general ward for the representation review . . .
Choosing councillors from one ward for both the Maori and General rolls, enhances representivity.
It is not about excluding rural representation — it is about including everyone to choose who they want to govern their council.
Gisborne District Council has been dominated by rural, non-Maori interests since its inception.
A report by historian Jane Luiten speaks of policy development and delivery shaped by the governing demographic.
However, this has not been representative of the Tairawhiti rural population.
Who are we to assume we know that only city people will be elected on to the council?
The voters know Tairawhiti is a diverse region and needs a range of different people on the council.
Thank you to the more than 1000 submitters for the hearing last week.
Responses from iwi, hapu and Maori organisations were clear and refreshing to read.
A common thread was expressed — we are moving into a new era with one district, one council.
The consultation report explained the over-representation of a certain age group in the survey and under-representation in others. It was not a complete picture.
Much of the opposition to district-wide wards came from names I recognise as being in the sheep and beef industry, past or present.
There are more than sheep and beef farmers who live rurally, and many more who work in the rural sector.
Instead of just sheep and beef farms, for example, there is a community of people involved in forestry — one in four people in Tairawhiti are connected to the forestry industry.
It is the biggest driver of our economy with sheep and beef and horticulture second and third.
People living in townships have not submitted either.
From my point of view, rural people will not have one councillor, they can pick from 13. That is true democracy at work.
If it doesn't work it can be changed in six years' time.
A couple of points from the editorial on Saturday:
I was one of the people voting and there was no block voting Jeremy.
I'm not sure how or why you think that.
In the debate, every councillor expressed a different rationale in support of a district-wide general ward.
This is not town vs country, it is councillors district wide.
— With the reference in the editorial to forestry owners requiring consultation - it's more than owners.
The editor notes more rural people attend long-term plan community meetings than town people — this is correct and the rural people will still want to connect if representation changes. Maybe even more so.
Also, our consultation tells us more and more people now want to communicate with the council online.
There is not much on at council this week so I have mostly used this space to respond to questions asked about the representation situation.
In councillors' diaries there is nothing official, but I intend to take part in a Local Government New Zealand webinar on Wednesday about overcoming vaccine hesitancy. I am interested to see if there is anything I can do.
On Thursday is the weekly Three Waters update via Zoom.
The Government sent out an email update last week which basically said thanks for the feedback.
“Cabinet is expected to consider the feedback . . . later this month and take decisions on next steps on the reform pathway.” (Take decisions? Is that a typo or a new way of talking?)