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Call to attend review meetings

by Toby Williams (Gisborne-Wairoa Federated Farmers president)

There is a representation review currently being conducted by the Gisborne District Council and with the introduction of Maori wards the council is reviewing how our entire representation looks.

They are conducting a survey asking people in our district their views on how the new structure incorporating Maori wards and our current councillors will look.

As the local Federated Farmers executive, we met with the council staff who sought our opinion on what we thought representation should look like.

During this conversation we discussed the importance of having a rural perspective edit into this representation review.

Gisborne District Council have meetings next week where they will speak with people in our rural areas to get their views on how they think the council structure should look.

The local province of Federated Farmers would like to encourage as many rural people as possible to attend these meetings.

It is very important that we maintain our rural representation that we currently have.

As an executive we have supported the formation of Maori Wards.

What we do not want to see is the addition of Maori wards at the expense of our rural wards.

In addition to these meetings the council also has a short survey available through their website and the results of this survey will guide council staff and counsellors on forming how we the people would like our council to look.

We believe it is very important that rural voices are added to this survey.

As we saw with the LTP decisions, our rural councillors and Issac Hughes were the only dissenting voices on how rates were being apportioned.

Without our rural representation we run the risk of our councillors ignoring the rural part of our district while still milking us for all the rates they can.

Many rural people tend to ignore what happens in town, yet they are only too happy to have a whinge and a moan when our roads are in a poor state of repair or there is perceived bias towards our urban counterparts.

If you choose not to have a say in this survey and participate in the representation review, you lose your right to criticise and argue decisions that have been made by the council.

As an executive, we believe that the ward-based system is the best fit for our district.

We do not believe that community boards would suit the needs of our rural ratepayers or and at-large election of our councillors would result in satisfactory rural representation.

We would like to encourage as many people as possible to attend the meetings and have their say on how they would like our council to look in the future.

The survey finishes on June 20 so there is no time like today to get involved and have your say in our representation review.

The meetings are as follows —

• Tolaga Bay Fire Station June 15 5.30-7.00pm.

• Ngatapa Rugby Clubrooms June 16 5.30-7.00pm.

• Tokomaru Bay Sports Club June 16 5.30-7.00pm.

Toby Williams and Mack