A potential compromise has been identified in the bid by Waihi Beach and Maketu residents to retain their own councillors.
The Local Government Commission heard objections from the two communities who would lose their electoral independence by the plan to shift the boundaries for next year's election.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council wants to amalgamate the Maketu and Te Puke wards into a new Eastern Ward, and the Waihi Beach and Katikati wards into a new Western Ward.
Kaimai Ward remained unchanged except to be renamed the Central Ward.
After hearing from opponents of the boundary changes, Commissioner Grant Kirby said the commission could consider creating electoral subdivisions within the Eastern and Western wards so that Maketu and Waihi Beach continued to elect their own councillors.
Western Bay Mayor Ross Paterson said the council was looking for a more sustainable structure to meet the challenges of imminent local government reform.
The commission reserved its decision.