The rules of the game for next year's Whanganui District Council elections have been proposed, with the councillors voting to retain a mayor and 12 councillors to represent the district.

And aside from minor boundary changes to the Whanganui Rural Community Board subdivisions, the status quo remains with the first past the post electoral system and no ward system to be used.

Just 10 people submitted to the council's draft representation proposal earlier this year, with the majority in support.

Council decided to keep the status quo because it intends to conduct a poll alongside the 2019 election on a number of electoral issues, including the number of councillors and the system of election.

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Councillors backed the proposal aside from Philippa Baker-Hogan who felt council has taken a "once over lightly approach" to the representation review and it had been "put in the too-hard basket".

Baker-Hogan said it was a political decision and meant any changes would not be in place for the 2019 election.

She said council had a responsibility to consider changes rather than put it to a poll alongside the election.

"We have had six years to engage with our community and make a decision."

Whanganui district councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan believes the council did not do a thorough enough representation review. Photo / Bevan Conley
Whanganui district councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan believes the council did not do a thorough enough representation review. Photo / Bevan Conley

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said it may have been a political decision "but it was the right and moral decision" to put it out to a poll.

"My strong belief and it always will be is that it should come from the people, the electors," he said.

"It's a political decision around who gets to tell us who should be around the table. Should it be us 12, 13 turkeys voting for Christmas... or should it be the populace making a vote about who should sit here and how we elect those people.

"Everybody at this table has had the opportunity to be part of the working party including the most vocal people against it but they didn't make time to be part of it."

Councillor Rob Vinsen said the fact that only 10 people submitted to the representation review said something.

"That tells me that either the public are reasonably satisfied with the status quo or it's not an important issue - and I don't think the second is correct."

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall says a poll about the electoral system will let voters decide. Photo / Bevan Conley
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall says a poll about the electoral system will let voters decide. Photo / Bevan Conley

Baker-Hogan said added poll questions at the election would confuse people.

"We know from previous elections that voters already get confused by the different types of voting they have to undertake.

"I personally believed the added poll will muddy the waters for electors and is not good practice in very important three-yearly cycles."

Deputy mayor Jenny Duncan said it needed to be made clear in any poll that fewer councillors wouldn't save money.

"If we reduce the number that pool gets spread between the people."

The representation proposal has been notified and people have until October 26 to appeal.