City seeks change of boundaries for equal voting

By Bernard Orsman

Some communities are unhappy about the proposed changes. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
Some communities are unhappy about the proposed changes. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

The Auckland City Council wants to correct big discrepancies in voting power on the Super City.

The votes of citizens in three of the four isthmus wards are worth less than votes in other parts of Auckland.

This is because the Local Government Commission has not met the legal requirement to create wards within a plus or minus 10 per cent rule for fair representation.

Hardest done-by is the inner-city ward of Maungawhau-Hauraki Gulf, under-represented by 24.3 per cent with one councillor for 88,000 people.

At the other extreme, the Rodney ward is over-represented by 24.3 per cent with one councillor for 53,590 people. The discrepancy is because the Government insisted on a single ward for Rodney.

In the other isthmus wards, Whau is under-represented by 14.3 per cent and Orakei-Maungakiekie by 14 per cent. Only Mt Albert-Mt Roskill is within the rule.

It is under-represented by 1.7 per cent.

Hauraki Gulf Islands councillor Denise Roche said the proposed arrangements were bad for democracy.

"Fewer elected representatives means less of a chance for the average person to have their say about the things they care about in their community, "she said.

Submissions on boundaries for the 12 wards and 19 local boards close today.

In an attempt to bring all four isthmus wards within the plus or minus 10 per cent deviation, the council's regional governance committee has proposed changes to ward boundaries.

These involve moving 16,000 residents from Whau to the Waitakere ward, and moving Hobsonville, Whenuapai, Herald Island and West Harbour from Waitakere to the over-represented ward of Hibiscus-Albany-East Coast Bays.

In other changes, the council has proposed moving 14,000 people in Otahuhu into the Manukau ward and putting all of Mt Eden into the Mt Albert-Roskill ward.

It also wants a name change for the Maungawhau-Hauraki Gulf ward to Waitemata or Central Auckland.

The changes do not have the full backing of City Vision-Labour councillors, who want the two-member wards of Orakei-Maungakiekie and Mt Albert-Mt Roskill split into four, single-members wards.

City Vision leader Richard Northey accused Citizens & Ratepayers councillors of gerrymandering the wards for political advantage.

Mr Northey, who is a ward member for Maungakiekie-Tamaki, said he had been buttonholed by people in Otahuhu and Onehunga saying they had nothing in common with Remuera and the eastern bays.

The two diverse communities have been pooled into the Orakei-Maungakiekie ward. A higher voter turnout in wealthy suburbs suggests it will be won by two councillors from the Remuera side of the fence. This could be the death knell for Mr Northey.

Eden-Albert councillors Cathy Casey and Glenda Fryer are upset Mt Eden has been split between two wards and about the "theft" of the name Maungawhau (Mt Eden) for the central city ward.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney also favoured single-member wards, saying strong local representation was healthy and required for the Super City.

BALANCING ACT

Over-represented wards include:
* Rodney - one councillor for 53,590 people
* Hibiscus-Albany-East Coast Bays - one councillor for 60,200
* Howick-Pakuranga-Botany - one councillor for 60,850
* Papakura-Manurewa - one councillor for 64,700

Under-represented wards include:
* Orakei-Maungakiekie - one councillor for 80,700
* Whau - one councillor for 80,900
* Waitakere - one councillor for 83,075
* Maungawhau-Hauraki - one councillor for 88,000

Auckland City Council boundary issues
* Three of four isthmus wards are significantly under-represented.
* Boundaries need to change so wards meet plus or minus 10 per cent rule for fair representation.

- NZ Herald

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