West Kaipara welcome in Far North

By Mike Barrington

Far North Mayor Wayne Brown would welcome the western side of the Kaipara district if residents wanted to join the Far North's bid to become a unitary authority.

He told about 30 people at a public meeting in the Northern Wairoa War Memorial Hall at Dargaville last week that Dargaville shared issues with Kaikohe.

He said the western side of Kaipara would fit in with the Far North community, whereas Dargaville would be overwhelmed if Kaipara became part of a new Whangarei-led unitary authority.

But the Far North did not have the same connection with Mangawhai and the eastern side of the Kaipara, which could be considered more aligned with Whangarei.

''What we said in Dargaville was that if they wanted to join us we would be happy to have them, and if they didn't want to join us that was okay too.''

Mr Brown said he had attended the Dargaville meeting at the request of the Local Government Commission, which -alongside the Far North unitary authority application - was considering a Whangarei District Council submission for two unitary authorities in any reorganisation of local government.

He went to the Kaipara meeting with Rangitane Marsden, from the Far North Iwi Leaders Forum, which includes Te Roroa, the main iwi in Northern Wairoa.

''I feel sorry for Dargaville people. They are shell-shocked with the commissioners being in charge there,'' Mr Brown said.

The Government appointed commissioners to run the financially troubled Kaipara District Council last year, when its debt soared to almost $80 million.

People at the Dargaville meeting had been ''ho-hum'' when he had started talking, but as the meeting progressed they had shown much more interest in his proposal.

''I pointed out the Far North has lower debt levels than Kaipara or the Whangarei district,'' Mr Brown said.

''We laid it out that we [the Far North] wouldn't mind having them if that suited them. The call to join with us would need to come from the Kaipara people.''

A senior communications adviser for the commission's reorganisation programme, Kathryn Street, said it was at the point of considering responses to its call for alternatives to the Far North application.

If the commission decides to change local government in Northland, a final proposal will be publicly notified and a petition of 10 per cent or more of electors in an affected district would trigger a poll, which would need 50 per cent voter support for the change to take place.

No change would be made before the local authority elections in October. Guidelines on the reorganisation process are at www.lgc.govt.nz.-->

- Northern Advocate

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