Napier residents will notice their voting forms will be different at this year's local body elections, with the Local Government Commission upholding a council decision to use a full ward system.

The commission announced on Friday it would uphold the decision, meaning all 12 councillors will represent a ward from the next election, as opposed to having six ward and six at-large councillors.

For voters it will mean only being able to vote for councillors running in their ward, a spokesperson for the council confirmed.

"Council will move from the previous mixed system, where there were six councillors elected by wards and six elected by the city as a whole (referred to as 'at large'), to a ward-only system."


"The community will be able to vote for any candidates that are standing in their ward."

Hawke's Bay Today understands candidates do not have to live in a ward to run for a councillor position in it.

The four current wards of Ahuriri, Onekawa-Tamatea, Nelson Park and Taradale will remain the same, with two councillors assigned to Ahuriri and Onekawa-Tamatea, and four each in the larger wards of Nelson Park and Taradale.

The mayor does not count as one of the 12 councillors, and is voted for separately.

Not all councillors were happy with the decision, current "at-large" councillor Keith Price said he voted against the decision when council made its decision in June.

"I feel like having the mix we've got, it means at large councillors oversee the whole city.

"I understand when you're elected and you swear to represent the city, not just your ward, but I think it's probably a natural instinct to protect your ward."

However, he believed Napier would adapt to the new system.


The Local Government Commission heard two objections to the full ward system. In their report, the commission described these objections as being made on an "if it ain't broke don't fix it", basis.

The reason for a full ward system is that it embeds councillors into the local community and it is more democratic, ensuring all parts of Napier are represented.

Since 1977 there have been three voting systems in Napier local government elections: a full ward system, a full at-large councillor system and a mixed model.

Elections are in October this year.

A spokesperson for Napier City Council they encouraged those over 18 to ensure they are enrolled to vote and to get involved, either by voting or running.

"Information evenings for those who are thinking about standing as candidates for Council will be held earlier in the year; dates will be publicised once finalised."