In a few weeks' time, while sipping on our favourite glass of Hawke's Bay Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, many of us will be looking back and pondering why we all had to spend so much energy, time and resources on a Local Government Commission proposal driven by ABHB that really failed to deliver to the people of Hawke's Bay an attractive and workable scenario for the entire region.

While one council, one vision, sounds good in theory, the proposal before us will not provide the path to regional prosperity and a solution to the region's woes while still keeping the "local" in local government.

The propaganda being put forward might hook-wink some people but, as we all know, if things seem too good to be true, they usually are - especially if we are going to get more fish in the sea through amalgamation!

Unfortunately, there are some fish hooks in the Local Government Commission proposal which will change how Hawke's Bay governance is managed in the future.


Will this current proposal bring less bureaucracy, duplication, more co-operation and efficiencies?

I doubt it.

The proposal has too many tiers of bureaucracy. To illustrate my point, we need to look at the proposal in its present form.

Tier One: The Hawke's Bay Council structure consists of a governing body of a mayor and 18 councillors.

Tier Two: Five local boards with 37 elected members. (We know that all of Auckland's 21 local boards wrote to Len Brown about their frustrations with the system.

They felt the amalgamated council was out of step with what the community wanted, they had no rating powers and virtually all matters needed the approval of the council.)

Tier Three: A regional planning committee, Maori board and natural resources board.

The regional planning committee will be a joint committee of Hawke's Bay Council. It will comprise 10 Maori appointed by trustees of Hawke's Bay hapu/iwi and 10 members of Hawke's Bay Council appointed by the council.

It is intended that this committee have input into the development and review of the regional policy statement and regional plans for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council region.

The council's obligations to this committee are substantial.

Maori board: This board will comprise the mayor and three councillors plus (number not stated in proposal) representatives of Hawke's Bay hapu/iwi/Maori.

The Hawke's Bay Council must maintain this board until at least 2019.

This board ensures that the views of hapu/iwi/Maori are taken into account in the exercise by the council of its functions, powers and duties.

Natural resources board: This board will comprise three members appointed by the council and (number not stated in proposal) representatives of rural, primary production and environmental organisations. The purpose of this board is to give advice to the council and Hawke's Bay Regional Planning Committee on issues relating to the environment, rural land use and primary production.

Political leaders come and go, so it is important that we think long and hard before voting for the proposal before us.

There is a big power shift here and Napier will have only six votes out of eighteen on the council. Having worked in local government for some time and looking at this proposal, with its local board and three-tier structure, I do believe the current proposal is untenable, too convoluted and no one will be satisfied with it.

Change is occurring. Over the past two years, we have seen huge progress with the development of a Joint Councils' Coastal Strategy, Joint Councils' Alcohol Policy, Joint Waste Strategy, harmonisation of the District Plans of Napier and Hastings, the Heretaunga Plains Urban Growth Strategy, Regional Events Strategy, and Regional Economic Development Strategy to name a few.

We need to be able to continue to support our region's economic drivers, Business Hawke's Bay, Tourism Hawke's Bay, HB Airport, Sports Hawke's Bay and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, with regional advocacy - Taranaki does it extremely well with their four local authorities and speaking with one voice when required - without compromising the very core of local government.

As Sir Peter Blake said, "We have begun - we are underway - we have a passion. We want to make a difference." Hawke's Bay is seeing positive changes, the region is moving in the right direction and last month's ASB economic figures confirm this. Do we really want to throw all this good work out the window?

Vote AGAINST the current proposal.

-Faye White is Deputy Mayor of Napier

-Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email:

-Viewpoints on the amalgamation debate can be submitted for consideration and will be used as long as no council resources, money, time or expertise are used in their preparation. This is a requirement of the Local Government Act 2002.