Community & Environment

Council favours retaining two-ward system

Hamilton's Central City straddling the Waikato River

Hamilton City Council has today decided on an initial proposal for the city’s representation arrangements. The initial proposal would retain the existing two-ward structure for the 2019 election, which is 12 councillors across the two wards (East and West) separated by the Waikato River, with the Mayor elected ‘at large’ by all voters across the city. A formal consultation process will begin on 24 August and last for one month.

By law, the Council must review its representation arrangements at least every six years. Governance Manager Lee-Ann Jordan says the Council was heartened by a positive response from the public through the pre-consultation phase of the review, with hundreds of Hamiltonians taking the opportunity to tell us what they think fair representation looks like for the city.

Pre-consultation was one part of a very robust process spanning more than 14 months. This process included in-depth analysis of the city’s communities and how people use the city. It also included benchmarking with other councils across the country as well as gathering feedback from the public via surveys and focus groups.

This process showed that while people are using much of the city in their day-to-day lives, the river is still a defining characteristic.

Mayor Andrew King says “We’ve looked at the pros and cons of a wide range of options, including more wards, different boundaries, no wards and a mixed system. We’re confident the two-ward system is still a good fit for Hamilton in 2019.”

“We recognise that a number of people think an ‘at large’ system (no wards) might be a better fit, because they think of Hamilton as one big community and this system would give them better choice of councillors.”

“We’ve given this option very thorough consideration and have decided that, on balance, taking into account all the research and factors the Council must consider, our two-ward system is the better option right now.

“We’ve given this option very thorough consideration and have decided that, on balance, taking into account all the research and factors the Council must consider, our two-ward system is the better option right now.

“We’re a growing city, and how our population is spread across the city is going to change significantly in the coming years, particularly in the west in areas like Peacockes and Rotokauri. This may well result in a more compelling case for change, but that’s for a future Council to decide – by law, this Council must ground its decision in the present.”

The Council will have another opportunity to review its representation arrangements in three years’ time, which will coincide with a review of the electoral system (first-past-the-post vs single transferable vote).

Formal consultation on the initial proposal to retain the existing two-ward representation arrangements will open on 24 August 2018 and end on 24 September 2018. Public hearings will take place on 9 October and Council will make a formal decision about the arrangements to be in place for the 2019 local body elections on 30 October.

An information booklet outlining Council’s proposal and a submission form will be available from 24 August at main reception at Municipal building in Hamilton City, libraries and online at hamilton.govt.nz/representationreview

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