Two mayors from the Wellington region have voiced their concerns surrounding the Local Government Commission's proposal for a Wellington super city.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace were briefed about the proposal to amalgamate the region's councils this morning.
"The draft proposal is for a uber-council from Miramar to Masterton and I have consistently said that is too far for one council," Ms Wade-Brown said.
"I do think that nine councils for a region of 500,000 is probably overkill, but the debate is now polarised between status quo and the uber-council," she said.
It was "very sad" the Local Government Commission came out with a proposal that was in total opposition to what the community wanted, Mr Wallace said.
"We know there are a few people who have been very vocal about having a super uber-council for the Wellington region but clearly the majority of people, the grass-roots people of this region, do not want it."
"Sadly we wanted to see some change for the better, some smart change -- this proposal today certainly does not deliver," she said.
Ms Wade-Brown and Mr Wallace said they were "disappointed" they were not welcome to attend a media briefing held earlier today.
"It does seem a little more hierarchical than collaborative," said Ms Wade-Brown.
"One of the issues they [the Local Government Commission] have constantly said is the Wellington region is broken, and they don't talk with one voice," said Mr Wallace.
"Just this week we have signed off on the major roading projects for this region collaboratively, working together.
"We are working together and it's unfortunate that clearly the Local Government Commission does not understand how this region works," Mr Wallace said.
Ms Wade-Brown said the proposal appeared to go against the wishes of those in the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa.
"The Wairarapa councils were very clear that they wanted to be a unitary on their side of the Rimutaka and this commission has not been able to fulfil that local desire," she said.
The Local Government Commission's draft proposal would see one super city take over the functions of nine councils in the lower North Island.
Under the commission's proposal, the council would take over the functions of the existing nine councils: Masterton District Council; Carterton District Council; South Wairarapa District Council; Upper Hutt City Council; Hutt City Council; Wellington City Council; Porirua City Council; Kapiti Coast District Council, and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
The new council would have a shared decision-making structure, the commission said.
Power would be shared between the governing body (a mayor and 21 councillors) and 60 members of local boards.
The mayor would be elected by voters of greater Wellington. Councillors and local board members would be elected from eight defined geographic areas, the commission said.
The mayor and councillors would be responsible for high-level decisions affecting all of Wellington.
The local boards would control council budgets and decisions for local matters in established communities. Local boards would be created for Wairarapa; Upper Hutt; Lower Hutt; Kapiti Coast; Porirua-Tawa; Ohariu; Lambton; and Rongotai.
The public was now being called on for submissions, on the new unitary authority, the Greater Wellington Council, with a deadline of March 2, next year.
Local Government Commission chairman Basil Morrison said the shared decision-making model of a unitary authority with local boards was the best of several options considered by them.
"We have proposed a structure of local government to best meet the needs of the people of the entire region over the next 30 years.
"This proposal offers the greatest opportunity to address the significant future issues facing the region. Wellington must address challenges of investment in infrastructure, changing demographics, the need for economic development, and management of the impact of natural hazards and climate change."
The proposal would cause considerable public concern, and was strongly opposed by many in the region, Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson said.
"Labour believes that decisions about basic democratic rights like this must be made by the people of the region through a referendum.
"Under the rules set by the National government this is not guaranteed, and has to be triggered by a petition signed by 10 per cent of the voters in one of the affected councils once a final proposal is announced.
Mr Robertson said the next step was for interested parties to make submissions on the proposal, and Labour Wellington region MPs, had established the website, www.wellingtonhaveyoursay.co.nz.
People could use the website to generate submissions on the proposal and ensure there was a referendum, Mr Robertson said.
Green Party Wellington MPs, councillors, and community board members have also opposed the proposal, and said it should only proceed if supported by referendum.
"This proposal is radical and repeats many of the same mistakes made in Auckland," said Green Party Wellington spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
"The Commission has put ideology over representative democracy.
"Any future change to our local governance should only proceed if supported by a referendum requiring a majority support in each affected region.
"All Wellingtonians need to have a say in the future of their local democracy."
Not everyone was opposed to today's proposal.
Pro-amalgamation group Better Wellington said it believed the proposal would strengthen local communities while making the most of the region's economic and environmental assets.
Better Wellington spokesman John Shewan said the proposal was the circuit breaker Wellington needed.
"These reforms will allow us to harness resources across the region, sharpen our focus, and realise Wellington's potential as a national and international hub for innovation, culture, tourism and sport."