Northern Action Group (NAG) is resurrecting a bid to have the Rodney Local Board electoral subdivision boundaries changed to give rural residents better political representation.
The group wants to contract the current Warkworth and Kumeu board subdivision boundaries to the townships and their surrounding area, and replace Wellsford with one large rural subdivision taking in South Head, Kaukapakapa, Puhoi, Kaipara Flats, Wellsford, Pakiri and even Kawau Island. Rodney’s fourth subdivision, Dairy Flat, would stay much as it is.
NAG says these new boundaries would allow elected members to represent voters’ priorities and interests more fairly, and create communities of common interest, rather than communities of place.
NAG chair Bill Foster says voters living in rural areas receive different services and tend to have different aspirations about how they want council to spend their rates, compared to those living in towns.
“For example, rural people mostly only get road and drainage services, while people living in the towns also get footpaths, libraries, public transport and community facilities and activities,” he says.
“This proposal provides a grouping based on the rural/urban classification determined by StatsNZ, rather than the traditional grouping around major population centres, which biases representation in favour of urban voters.
“The proposed changes more fairly reflect representation of the half of Rodney’s population which is rural, pays half the rates, and gets little in the provision of services from Auckland Council other than roads and drainage.”
NAG says its proposal would mean four rural representatives on Rodney Local Board, one for Dairy Flat and two each for Warkworth and Kumeu. Currently, there are four members for Kumeu, three for Warkworth and one for Dairy Flat. Iwi should also be encouraged to nominate and/or support rural candidates, Foster says, since Maori make up 12 per cent of the Rodney population.
NAG, which was formed initially to fight Rodney being absorbed into the Auckland Supercity without a public vote, first tried to instigate these boundary changes two years ago, but council deferred the matter, as it was not legally required to review boundaries until 2024, in time for the 2025 local elections.
During a NAG deputation to Rodney Local Board on August 16, Foster said the bulk of board representation was drawn from small urban populations that formed the majority, and current boundaries meant Maori and Kaipara Harbour land interests had split representation.
He added that Wellsford’s representation of one local board member was nearly 11 per cent under quota.
“Sixty four per cent of rural voters are spread as minorities across Rodney,” he said.
“Representation is non-complying, unequal and unbalanced.”
Board members expressed interest in NAG’s, with some suggesting a workshop should be held to look into it further.
NAG has drawn up an online poll to gauge the level of public interest in whether council should change the Rodney Local Board member election boundaries for the 2025 elections.
To find out more and take part, visit: www.nag.org.nz/index.html