An upcoming representation review could change the look of Rotorua Lakes Council and determine how many Māori wards the city has.
The Local Electoral Act 2001 requires councils to review representation arrangements at least once every six years.
This review will help the council decide the total number of councillors there should be for the district or region and the way they are elected.
In the 2015 representation review, the council went from 12 councillors and one mayor to 10 councillors and one mayor but continued to be elected from the whole district rather than split into wards.
Following that review, it opted to add a Rural Community Board alongside the already established Lakes Community Board, and Te Tatau o Te Arawa at the committee level to ensure a diverse range of voices making recommendations to elected members.
In May this year, Rotorua Lakes Council resolved to establish a Māori ward, or wards, which would come into effect from next year's election.
The representation review will not change that decision, however, it will determine the number of elected members at the table, which will impact how many Māori seats are in that ward or wards.
District leadership and democracy deputy chief executive Oonagh Hopkins told the Rotorua Daily Post the review was an opportunity for Rotorua residents to help ensure they felt fairly represented when it came to council decisions.
"This is a really good opportunity for people to be able to see how input into what that structure looks like then flows into the next part which is to have your vote and ensure the people that you want representing you and making decisions for the district are sitting around the table," she said.
"It's a chance for the community and council to reflect on the current structure and whether it is still fit-for-purpose and reflective of a growing and diverse district."
The review would help the council ensure the elected members reflected the diversity of the district while taking into account how the number of councillors would affect the efficiency of decision making.
The fact this year's review would decide the structure of the newly introduced Māori wards made it as important as ever the community had its say, Hopkins said.
"What this representation review will do is provide an added level of awareness on what that decision to introduce Māori wards means and what it might look like."
As part of the representation review, Rotorua Lakes Council will be considering, and asking for feedback throughout July.
Feedback collected will help inform the development of a proposal for these arrangements that will go to full council on August 31 for approval for consultation.
Once approved, the proposal will be out for public consultation from September 8 to October 8. Hearings will also be held in November for those who would like to speak to their submissions.
The council will make a final decision on its representation arrangements for the 2022 election and adopt a final proposal in November.
There will also be an opportunity for members of the public to make an objection or appeal before the final proposal is sent to the Local Government Commission.
As part of the representation review, Rotorua Lakes Council will be considering, and asking for feedback about
• How many elected members the district should have
• Whether elected members should be elected from across the whole district or split into wards
• If wards are introduced, what the boundaries should be
• If we have wards, how many elected members should there be per ward
• Whether community boards be retained and/or new ones introduced
• The number of seats for the Māori ward(s)
There will be opportunities throughout July for the community to provide feedback on representation arrangements, both online and in-person at public talks currently scheduled for July 21, 12.30pm to 1.30pm, and July 28, 5.30pm to 6.30pm at Rotorua Library.
Both talks will be livestreamed.
More information about the representation review is available at rotorualakescouncil.nz/koreromai.