Election boundary changes resisted

By John Cousinsnews@bayofplentytimes co nz

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A bid to stop Pyes Pa being swallowed up by the Bay of Plenty Electorate has been launched by former MP and city councillor Larry Baldock.

The sprawling electorate held by Tony Ryall needs to bite off another chunk of Tauranga in order to keep within its population quota.

But rather than the Electoral Commission's preference to take Pyes Pa, Mr Baldock argued that Arataki was a better fit because Wairakei and Papamoa East were already in the Bay of Plenty Electorate.

He has objected to the boundary change by the the commission which is charged with adjusting New Zealand's electoral boundaries for next year's General Election.

Mr Baldock said it made more sense to move the electorate's Papamoa boundary one kilometre north into Arataki rather than isolate the large and rapidly growing community of Pyes Pa from its natural connection with Greerton and Tauranga's CBD.

His plan foreshadowed the day when population growth could justify dividing Tauranga into two electorates - Tauranga East and Tauranga West.

The rest of the Western Bay of Plenty would become a third electorate.

Mr Baldock said Arataki's population of 5160 would offset Pyes Pa's population of 6036 without breaching the Bay of Plenty Electorate's quota cap.

His submission highlighted the electorate's creep into the Papamoa and eastern boundaries of Tauranga until it wrapped around the city by taking in Te Puna and Omokoroa.

Mr Baldock compared Tauranga to the similar-sized urban and rural areas of Hamilton and Dunedin that were divided into two electorates - Dunedin North and Dunedin South, and Hamilton East and Hamilton West.

A Tauranga East electorate would provide a community of interest for those living on the coastal margins, while Tauranga West would take in voters living around Tauranga Harbour. If there was any merit in shifting boundaries, then including Arataki in the Bay of Plenty made more sense than disrupting the residents of Pyes Pa, he said.

With a combined Tauranga City and Western Bay District population of nearly 160,000 the sub-region was coming close to the 170,000 to 180,000 needed to justify three electorates.

Objections to the proposed boundary changes will be published mid January so the public can make counter submissions, with hearings scheduled for mid February.

Mr Baldock is a Pyes Pa resident and member of the Conservative Party. He served as a List MP for the United Future Party.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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