Timaru district’s representation review under way

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by Greta Yeoman

A representation review of the Timaru District Council and the district’s community boards has begun.

The Local Electoral Act 2001 requires all councils to review their representation arrangements at least once every six years. Community boards in the Timaru district began discussing the review at their meetings earlier this week.

The Timaru District Council (TDC) last reviewed its structures in 2012 and needed to hold another review by August this year, a council spokesman said.

The TDC’s structure is made up of three wards, Geraldine, Pleasant Point-Temuka and Timaru, which elect district councillors according to a system of apportionment as well as the members of their respective community boards.

The mayor is elected via a district-wide vote.

The representation review would determine, via community consultation and council and board discussions, whether the council and the district’s residents felt the way members were elected was fair.

Under the present system, of the council’s nine members six are elected by the Timaru ward, two by the Temuka-Pleasant Point ward and one by the Geraldine ward.

However, the review might examine the possibility of all councillors being elected via a district-wide vote.

Under the present system, the Geraldine Community Board has six members, while the Temuka-Pleasant Point board has five from each town, but the review offered the potential for board numbers to change.

The council spokesman said while several councils in the North Island had been consulting on the possible creation of Maori wards recently, this would not occur in the Timaru district, as its population was too small.

The Te Tai Tonga electorate, for Maori voters, which covers the entire South Island and Wellington, consisted of about 34,000 residents, of whom only 5000 lived in the Rangitata area – which takes in the Timaru and Ashburton area.

The community boards had been discussing their options at recent meetings in preparation for a council workshop on the issue.

The Mackenzie District Council last reviewed its structure in 2015 and the Waimate District Council’s last review was held last year.