A new Māori ward for Kaipara will bring an extra councillor to the table for its local district council.
Kaipara District Council (KDC) has eight councillors and a mayor. However, this will increase to nine from October next year after KDC recently voted to bring in a new Māori ward called Te Moananui o Kaipara, triggering a representation review.
The increase also comes as Kaipara's southeastern population rises across Mangawhai, Kaiwaka and Oneriri Peninsula.
Dale Ofsoske, Electoral Officer, spoke to a KDC briefing meeting in Mangawhai last week
) as part of the council putting together its representation review proposal that will be open for feedback next month.
The number of people in the Kaiwaka Mangawhai ward has grown by more than 40 per cent since the district's last representation review in 2018 – up 2500 to 8680.
This growth has forced an increase in councillors for the ward – while the number of councillors from the west decreases. Kaipara's western population has over the same time, dropped by 180 people - from 10,910 to 10,730.
Mamaranui resident and longtime council observer Dot Gorrie said it would be sad to see a reduction in the number of councillors representing Kaipara's west.
"We need as much local representation as we can get."
The changes come along with the impacts of introducing the new Māori ward.
Most of Kaipara's 3680 voters in the new Māori ward voters come from the west, their voting shift reducing general ward voter numbers there. The west roughly covers from Waipoua Forest in the north to Pouto in the south and east to Tokatoka.
This mean the number of councillors from the west drops from four to three (a 25 per cent decrease) while numbers increase from two to three in the east (a 50 per cent increase).
Kaipara's extra councillor comes as part of Government requirements the number of people each ward councillor represents must be equally allocated across the district, with no more than a 10 per cent difference between the number of people each councillor represents.
At present Kaiwaka-Mangawhai councillors represent 4340 electors, Dargaville 2480, West Coast-Central 2885 and Otamatea 2885.
KDC's proposed new structure would see this change to 2653 for Kaiwaka-Mangawhai, 2860 for a new combined western ward and 2480 for Otamatea. – an average of 2687 people per general ward councillor.
The new Māori ward Te Moananui o Kaipara – the vast oceans of the Kaipara - will have one councillor, elected at large from those on the Māori electoral roll across the whole district and representing 3680 people.
Ward numbers will change too under the review. Four general wards will drop to three. The current Dargaville and West Coast-Central wards will become one, whilst Kaiwaka-Mangawhai and Otamatea general wards remain the same.
There will be three general ward councillors elected from the new merged western ward, exactly encompassing the same geographic area as the two wards it replaces. Three general ward councillors will be elected from Kaiwaka-Mangawhai and two from the Otamatea general ward.
People identifying as Māori make up 14.6 per cent of Kaipara's 25,180 population with 21,500 in the general wards.
The new representation proposal will be open for public feedback from August 27.