The Whakatane District Council has lodged a counter-objection to a Murupara Community Board submission seeking to have the southern corner of the district remain in the Rotorua electorate.
Draft electorate boundaries drawn up by the representation commission for this year's national elections propose the inclusion of the Murupara, Galatea, Ruatahuna, Waiohau, Minginui and Te Whaiti communities in the East Coast Electorate. The Murupara Community Board objected on the basis that the area has a community of interest with Rotorua.
The district council counter-objection, lodged by Mayor Tony Bonne, sets out a number of grounds for allowing the proposed boundary change.
"The council believes the community board's assessment is incomplete and does not give sufficient consideration to the criteria set out by the Electoral Act for determining boundaries," Mr Bonne said.
"Under the current arrangement, the Whakatane district is split between two electorates. Our view is that more efficient representation at parliamentary level can be achieved if the whole of the Whakatane district is part of the East Coast Electorate, which under the new boundary proposal, would also include the Kawerau and Opotiki districts, therefore covering the entire Eastern Bay of Plenty."
In his counter-objection, Mr Bonne notes that governance arrangements and infrastructure services for the southern communities are provided by the Whakatane District Council. The area also falls within the Bay of Plenty District Health Board area, as does the rest of the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
"Much of the southern area is included within the Ngai Tuhoe rohe, which makes up a very important part of the East Coast electorate. Tuhoe, the Whakatane District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have recently formalised protocols designed to redress inconsistencies around statutory and planning activities across local authority boundaries and we believe the Representation Commission's proposed electorate boundary would complement and enhance that work," Mr Bonne said. He added there were also strong economic links between the southern part of the district and the Eastern Bay of Plenty, particularly dairy and forestry. .
"It will allow us to develop a relationship with one electorate Member of Parliament and effectively increase understanding of local issues, with resulting gains in the efficiency and consistency of decision-making at the highest level."