Stratford District Council will retain the First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system for the 2022 triennial election, unless members of the public demand otherwise.
FPP has been used by Stratford District Council for many years and has been by the majority of councils across New Zealand in past elections.
In the last triennial elections, which took place in 2019, 67 of 78 local authorities used the FPP system. This year some councils, including Hamilton, Gisborne and Nelson, have voted to change to the Single Transferable Voting electoral system, (STV). New Plymouth also uses the STV system, as does the Taranaki District Health Board.
The decision to retain the FPP system for the Stratford District can be overturned if 5 or more per cent of enrolled electors demand a poll be held. Any such poll demand would have to be received by council by February 21 next year to be binding for the 2022 local election.
A report asking councillors to consider the district's electoral system and representation arrangement was presented to elected members at the August policy and services meeting.
The report stated elected members were required to decide which electoral system, STV or FPP, was to be used for the next two elections, and were asked if they wished to review Māori representation for the 2022 and 2025 elections.
The report noted there was no legal requirement to undertake a review of representation at this point as the last review had been undertaken in 2018. By law, a review must take place every six years.
While all councillors were in agreement on retaining the FPP electoral system over the Single Transferable Voting (STV) system, there was debate whether Māori representation should be reviewed in time for the 2022 election.
Councillor Dalziel spoke in favour of Māori representation on council.
"There is still a degree of racial prejudice in the community. I am of the view a Māori ward is probably a good thing to ensure the interests of all Māori in our district are represented. I am aware it could get shot down, but at least we would have tried."
Mayor Neil Volzke said he agreed it was important everyone in the community was engaged in council decision making, but establishing a Māori ward was just one option.
"There are multiple ways to ensure Māori have the opportunity to contribute and participate in the decision making process of council. This is what the legislation requires us to do.
"Today's decision isn't asking us how we want to do that, but rather do we wish to consider it now, in time for the next election, or later. We need to engage more fully with Māori in our community to hear their views on how this might best be achieved."
The report stated if Māori representation was to be introduced in time for the 2022 elections a final decision was required by November 23 this year. The mayor asked if that time frame was feasible.
"Do we have enough time to give this full consideration in that time frame?"
Councillors voted in favour of not reviewing Māori representation for the next election, but rather to give it further consideration in preparation for a decision when the next review takes place.
Disclosure: Editor Ilona Hanne is married to the CEO of Stratford District Council.