More than 70 people attended the South Wairarapa session of the Local Government Commission's consultation on "Better local government" for Wairarapa, at the Martinborough town hall on Tuesday evening.

The session was to garner feedback from South Wairarapa residents on six options for governance in Wairarapa, ranging from status quo to a Wairarapa District Council with a variety of relationships with the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

A full unitary authority for Wairarapa, taking on all the roles of regional council, was also mooted.

Chairman of the Local Government Commission, Sir Wira Gardiner, said South Wairarapa was the final of three sessions in Wairarapa, and themed around a "consultation first" policy to develop options for governance.


"We know from recent history and experience the relationship between LGC and the communities hasn't been that great, so we are trying to restore that relationship."

He said this was the reverse of the super-city process last year, which consulted with the public after options had been firmed.

The six options had been developed from councillor workshop meetings in November and December.

The LGC had also noted comments from submitters in the super-city debate, with a desire to keep local identity and democracy, keep costs downs, but have a connection to Wellington.

"We're at a stage where we need to engage very actively with the community at large."

Local Government Commission spokeswoman Kay Baxter said the minister was also open to considering other proposals.

"If you come up with something that's not in the tool kit, but you consider it's the best thing, then he's prepared to legislate to allow that option to happen."

Ms Baxter said if there was a change of governance structure, it would likely mean a local body election in 2018, meaning those elected this year under the existing structure would have a two-year term.

Those elected in 2018 would have a one-off four-year term.

The audience were invited up for a workshop session, giving their suggestions and comments to LGC officers to attach to posters for the six options.

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said it was difficult to favour one option over another without knowing the costs involved.

"The last example [Wairarapa Unitary Authority], it's fantastic, we control everything, all in Wairarapa.

"But you haven't told us what that would cost."

Facilitator Doug Martin said the meeting was more about "familiarising" people with the options.

There would be more public consultation in May/June, and progress announcements in July, to avoid interfering with the 2016 election process.

A poll would take place in 2017, with elections in 2018.

What the options are:

Option A is for the status quo.

Option B is for a combined Wairarapa District Council and a separate Wellington Regional Council.

Option F is for a Wairarapa Unitary Authority, combining the district council and regional council functions for Wairarapa in one body.

In between B and F, the options C, D and E all include a Wairarapa District Council and separate Wellington Regional Council, with degrees of crossover between them. Option C is for a joint regional Resource Management Committee to oversee planning decisions.

Option D is for joint committees between the Wellington Regional Council and a Wairarapa District Council.

Option E is for a Wairarapa District Council that would cover most regional council functions, and rate accordingly.

Options D and E require changes to current local government legislation.