Editorial: Boundaries may turn out to redefine identity

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The final electoral map for united local government of Auckland was published this week and it retains a notable feature of the provisional plan. Despite submissions to the Local Government Commission against two-seat electorates, they largely survive. Only one has been divided into two single-member constituencies, Remuera-Orakei-St Heliers and Onehunga-Panmure-Glen Innes.

Yet the case for dividing them - that higher voter turnouts in one part would deny representation in the other - surely applies more widely. Other two-member wards look unbalanced. East Coast Bays combined with Orewa-Whangaparaoa, for example. Population and turnouts are quite likely to produce two members from one side of several large wards.

The commission seems to believe that will not matter so long as the large area has a community of interest. Its study of Auckland has led it to the interesting conclusion that the city's communities are often not small, concentrated areas. Smaller electorates, it argues, would divide many communities of interest.

Indeed, it might have drawn even larger multi-member electorates had there not been concern at the cost candidates would face in campaigning on that scale.

Most wards will cover the districts of two local boards, the boundaries of which were also finalised this week. These, too, are larger than the communities that have their own boards under existing councils. With the roles of the new boards still to be defined their future looks doubtful. Their final boundaries add to that impression. They are not communities as the term is commonly understood.

But if the commission is right, and urban communities are larger than supposed, the maps could form new components of an Aucklander's identity.

- NZ Herald

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