Masterton gets governance options

By Gerald Ford gerald.ford@age.co.nz -
1 comment
About 120 people packed the Frank Cody Lounge for a lively meeting on governance options for Wairarapa.  PHOTO/GERALD FORD
About 120 people packed the Frank Cody Lounge for a lively meeting on governance options for Wairarapa. PHOTO/GERALD FORD

Masterton people welcomed a new approach to consultation by the Local Government Commission (LGC), revealed at a public meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting hosted by the LGC and Masterton District Council aired options for reform of local government and a planned process for choosing one.

About 120 people filled the Frank Cody Lounge for the meeting that featured plenty of engagement from the floor and a chance to walk around and view some of the different options for reform.

Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson welcomed everyone and said it was an opportunity the LGC was taking to engage with people early.

LGC chairman Sir Wira Gardiner scored points when he acknowledged the mayor, councillors and "distinguished ratepayers".

Sir Wira said last year's reform consultation process was subject to legislation that was "very linear and quite prescriptive", and the super-city amalgamation had been pulled in June last year because of a lack of community support.

The new process was voluntary and had a "requirement on relationships", Sir Wira said.

"Any one of the TAs (district councils or the regional council) could opt out ... This hall full of people demonstrates that people do want to participate."

Former local body politician Rick Long asked whether the process would be finished by the next local body election and Sir Wira said by then the commission would "put the shutters up".

"After that we'd be interfering with the electoral process."

Sir Wira said the group hoped to achieve "75 to 80 per cent of objectives by May or June".

"Voter participation will determine the pace, the speed and the outcome," Sir Wira said. "It will be up to (prospective) councillors to run their own campaign."

Councillor Brent Goodwin asked for clarification for the public that a change in the structure of local government in Wairarapa would not affect this year's elections, and this was confirmed.

If change were recommended and the public voted for it, this would apply to subsequent elections, but councillors elected this year may have a shortened two-year term, with elections for a new structure in 2018 to apply for an initial four-year term. Meeting facilitator Doug Martin then invited people to give their views on the best ways to consult the community, and on what were the most important things for local government in Wairarapa.

People were sent to the foyer where the various options were on display, with Local Government Commission staff members there to answer questions.


What the options are:

Option A is for the status quo.

Option B is for a combined Wairarapa District Council and a separate Wellington Regional Council.

Option F is for a Wairarapa Unitary Authority, combining the district council and regional council functions for Wairarapa in one body.

In between B and F, the options C, D and E all include a Wairarapa District Council and separate Wellington Regional Council, with degrees of crossover between them.

Option C is for a joint regional Resource Management Committee to oversee planning decisions.

Option D is for joint committees between the Wellington Regional Council and a Wairarapa District Council.

Option E is for a Wairarapa District Council that would cover most regional council functions, and rate accordingly.

Options D and E require changes to current local government legislation.

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