THE long-awaited decision on just what the future holds for Wairarapa in terms of local government seems to be finally approaching.

The Local Government Commission has signalled a recommendation, along with a draft proposal on the restructuring of councils, will be made public next week after a high-powered meeting to be held at Te Papa.

What that will be is anyone's guess just now, although there are only three realities.

They are the formation of a Wairarapa Unitary Authority, a "super city"-type merger with other councils in the greater Wellington region or simply a recommendation not to change anything, in other words, the status quo.


On this issue, it seems we are a district divided and even our local body politicians are far from unanimous on just which way we should go, although it would be fair to say if change needs to take place most are leaning towards the establishment of a Wairarapa Unitary Authority.

If either of the options - taking out the status quo possibility - is recommended and becomes the new path we take, it will certainly be the biggest change in local government terms in at least 25 years.

In 1989, the council structure in Wairarapa underwent the biggest upheaval in decades when Sir Brian Elwood decreed the old borough and county council structure was to fall victim to change.

That led to the creation of the district councils - Masterton, Carterton, Tararua and South Wairarapa - and to much mumbling and grumbling among many in the community that the demise of the small town borough and rural councils would spell doom.

Fair to say I think we have long since settled into the 1989 models and, by and large, things have worked out okay, although increasing rates are always a source of discontent.

But then again they always were, even when small towns took care of themselves.

Should the commission's recommendation be in favour of a unitary authority - and that comes to pass - a new round of adjustments will be needed and any remaining vestige of parochialism will need to be killed off. If the proposal favours joining forces with Wellington, then even wider reaching adjustments could be necessary so, all in all, we are in for interesting times.