Community voices at the council table – Representation Review 2024

Māu e āwhina ki te whiriwhiri me pēhea tōu reo e rongo ai i te kaunihera.
You can help decide how your voice will be heard at the council table.

The role of elected members (our mayor, councillors and community board members) is to be a voice for the local hāpori (community).

Council voted to implement Māori wards in 2023, so we now need to consider how we represent community voices at the council table with Māori wards included. This is our Representation Review.


What we have now

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As at 2022, we had 6,378 electors (people enrolled to vote on either the Māori Roll or General Roll) in the Ōpōtiki District.

Currently, we elect:

  • A mayor (at large)
  • 1 councillor from the Coast ward
  • 3 councillors from the Ōpōtiki Ward
  • 2 councillors from the Waioeka-Waiōtahe-Otara Ward

We also have one community board - the Coast Community Board - with 4 members.

Why do things need to change?

Council must review, from time to time, how well people and communities in the district are represented. With the decision to include Māori wards, we now need to do that this year so that it can be in place for the 2025 elections.

The number of Māori ward councillors is set in legislation using a formula based on the ratio of Māori electoral population to the total electoral population.

Based on the formula, Ōpōtiki would likely have 3-4 councillors from one or more Māori wards (depending on the number of councillors we choose to have on council). You can read more details on this in the frequently asked questions.

What needs to change?

In light of these changes, we must make sure our arrangements are:

Effective means the system should be practical and work. Thinking about questions like: do we have the right number of councillors? Should they be elected from wards or “at large”? How many wards and where? Should we have community boards and how many?

Representative means our structure must bring different “communities of interest” to the table. Questions about where people feel like they belong. Where you might feel like your community has distinct needs that should be heard at the council table. Where your community meets, shops, goes to school and church.

In this process, ‘fair’ generally means each elected member represents about same number of people (within +/- 10%). Māori wards and General wards are treated separately under this rule.

Can we keep things the same?

No. With the introduction of Māori wards, none of our wards meet the “+/- 10% rule”. For example, if we just layered Māori wards over top of our current ward structure, some of the councillors would represent around 600 people and other councillors would represent almost 3,000. So some change is necessary.

What do we need to decide?

We need to consider questions like:

  • how many councillors we want
  • whether we have one or more General wards
  • whether we have one or more Māori wards
  • where we draw ward boundaries and their names (if we choose to have them)
  • and whether we want community boards (and their boundaries, membership, and names if we do)

How will the process work?

Our first step is to talk with ngā hāpori (our communities) and listen to what they think representation should look like at Council.

Based on what the community says, councillors will draw up a recommended structure (the initial proposal) in July. We’ll bring that back to the community for formal consultation so that the final structure is resolved before the end of 2024.

We also need to allow time for any appeals or reviews by the Local Government Commission. The final structure will be effective in the 2025 local elections.

Not sure what ward you are in?

In the Layers List, de-select 'Territorial Authority' and select 'Wards & Māori Ward'. This will show a regional view of the wards here in our rohe. Please note: no Māori wards will display in Ōpōtiki because no ward boundaries have yet been set.

To find your ward based on your address, type your address in the bar and hit search.

Have your say

Survey: Early feedback questions

Ōpōtiki District Council is reviewing how it can best represent our communities in the make-up of council.

Your feedback will help councillors shape what our General wards, Māori wards and Community Boards could look like.

You can answer as many or few questions as you would like - they are simply there to provide a guide if it is helpful. You can also provide feedback directly in the boxes below if you prefer.


Wards and Representation

The representation review is relevant to you because it ensures that the communities within the Ōpōtiki district are fairly and effectively represented.

It determines how your community is represented at council, which affects how your interests and views are considered in council decisions.

The Local Electoral Act requires “fair and effective representation for individuals and communities”.

Fair representation relates to the number of councillors represented per member. The ratio of councillors per member in each constituency is required to be within +/-10% of the ratio for the whole district. This is designed to ensure approximate equality in representation i.e., votes of equal value. When determining fair and effective representation the general and Māori constituencies are dealt with separately.

Effective representation relates to the Councillors’ ability to represent their constituency and ensure matters important to their electorate are heard.

The term “communities of interest” is used in the Local Electoral Act to describe in general terms, the sense of community or belonging reinforced by the geography of the area, the commonality of places to which people go to for their employment, the location of their schools, marae, banks, where they do their shopping and the location of their religious, recreational and major transport facilities etc.

A ward is a geographical area outlined by boundaries for electoral purposes. A certain number of people in each ward are elected to represent you on council. They are like “seats” in a general election. In Ōpōtiki we currently have three wards: the Coast ward (1 councillor), the Ōpōtiki Ward (3 councillors) and the Waioeka-Waiōtahe-Otara Ward (2 councillors).

Although candidates stand for their ward area, when voted on to council, councillors swear an oath to work for the district as a whole.

Head to the Ward Map to find out what Ward you're in.

We use population data from 2023 population estimates provided by Statistics New Zealand to work out how many people live in different areas of the district and this helps us understand our 'communities of interest'.

As we work through this process, we will look into different options for ward boundaries and ‘at large’ options that will meet the ‘fair and effective’ rules. We will then choose our preferred option (based on feedback from our communities) and consult on this ‘initial proposal’.

Take our survey to have your say.

The number of Māori ward councillors is based on legislative formula using Māori and general electoral populations (not electors).

  • 4,770 Māori Electoral Population (45.13%)
  • 5,880 General Electoral Population (54.87%)

For example:

If 6 councillors are retained:

  • 3 Māori councillors (2.71 rounded up)
  • 3 general councillors

If 5 councillors:

  • 2 Māori councillors (2.26 rounded down)
  • 3 general councillors

If 7 councillors:

  • 3 Māori councillors (3.16 rounded down)
  • 4 general councillors

If 8 councillors:

  • 4 Māori councillors (3.61 rounded up)
  • 4 general councillors

A democratic system requires financial support to work and different structures will have slightly different cost implications mostly in terms of back-office support.

The cost of paying elected members will not change. That is because the remuneration of elected members is set independently by the Remuneration Authority based on a variety of factors including population size and expenditure of the council. The same “pot” of money set by the Remuneration Authority is shared out between more or fewer elected members.

Check out the Community Boards page on the LGNZ website

At the next local government elections in 2025.

No, Māori wards were adopted by Ōpōtiki District Council in December 2023 and must be in place for our local government elections in 2025. Part of this review process is deciding the most fair and effective structure with Māori wards in place.

The Local Government Act requires councils to provide opportunities for Māori to contribute to the decision-making process and consider ways to enhance Māori capacity to contribute to decision-making (and other obligations). This is in recognition of Māori as tangata whenua and the Crown’s partner in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Local Electoral Act requires Councils to enable fair and effective representation for individuals and communities. It is up to each council to choose the most appropriate and effective form of Māori representation for their population - taking into account the needs and preferences of their Māori partners and the wider community.

Māori Wards

No. Once elected, all elected members, from General or Māori wards, take a formal oath to represent the entire district.

No. The Māori ward elected members could whakapapa to any iwi. Under the formal oath they will represent all community members.

Māori wards are one way to increase Māori participation in decision-making, but they do not replace other ways including working to develop partnership agreements with mana whenua iwi and hapu groups within the Opotiki District.

If you're of Māori descent, you can enroll in either the General or Māori electoral rolls. If you're not of Māori descent, you can only enrol in the General electoral roll.

Head to the Electoral Commission website for more information on electoral rolls.