The current KDC ward map. Each ward is currently represented by two councillors.
A representation review in the Kaipara district could dramatically shake up the democratic landscape.
The review could redefine Kaipara District Council (KDC) ward boundaries and shift the focus of power toward Mangawhai and Kaiwaka.
The review seeks to address the current under representation of the Kaiwaka -Mangawhai ward in favour of the Dargaville ward.
The review has also been triggered by the need to implement a new Maori ward.
Election Services general manager Dale Ofsoske made a presentation to KDC this month outlining different possible options for the new democratic format.
He explained that councillors must be allocated to each ward based on its population as a percentage of the total district population.
It is a binding rule that “representation variance” cannot be out by more than plus or minus 10 per cent.
However, population estimates from last year show that the Kaiwaka-Mangawhai ward is currently under represented by 38 per cent, while Dargaville is over represented by 21 per cent.
The Otamatea and West Coast-Central wards are sufficiently balanced.
Mr Ofsoske presented several potential options that would balance representation in the four communities, as well as the new Maori ward.
The first options dispensed with the existing four wards – Dargaville, Kaiwaka-Mangawhai, Otamatea, West Coast-Central – and instead combined them in various ways.
The option at the top of Mr Ofsoske’s list would see Dargaville, WC-Central and Otamatea combined with five councillors and Kaiwaka-Mangawhai stand alone with three councillors.
Alternatively, Kaiwaka-Mangawhai would be combined with Otamatea, with four councillors, while
Dargaville and WC-Central would be combined with three councillors.
Another option would merge all wards into a “super ward” that would have seven councillors.
Two further options would achieve balanced representation by having two “at large” councillors, voted on by the entire district, which would be split into an east and west ward.
For these variants, the balance of ward-based councillors would depend on whether Otamatea joined the east or west ward.
Mr Ofsoske also presented four options that would maintain the current four wards, however each option would leave at least one ward significantly under-represented.
The most compliant of the options would see Kaiwaka-Mangawhai with two councillors while the other three wards would get a single councillor each. In addition, there would be two “at large” councillors.
Another topic included in the review was whether to establish community boards in Dargaville and Mangawhai.
Community board members are elected by the public or appointed by Council, and their role is to advocate on behalf of communities to Council.
Council may delegate responsibilities to boards at its discretion. Some boards around New Zealand are charged with parks, community centres and grants.
The public will first be consulted on the review early next month after which the Council will decide on a single option for formal consultation in August or September.
Based on feedback, a final proposal will be notified in November which can be appealed.
The resulting decision will define the next year’s local government elections in Kaipara.