A new unitary authority would replace the existing nine
councils: Masterton, Carterton, South Wairarapa, Upper Hutt,
Hutt City, Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti Coast and the Wellington
It would be a two-tier structure with:
a governing body comprising a Mayor elected by the ratepayers
of Greater Wellington and 21 councillors representing eight wards,
60 members of local boards, one for each ward –
Wairarapa, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Kapiti Coast, Porirua-Tawa,
Ohariu, Lambton and Rongotai. These would have powers and budgets
for local parks and reserves, recreational, community and cultural
facilities, decisions about public places such as town centres and
main streets, local transport, waste and recycling and local
economic development initiatives.
An integrated rating system would come into force on 1 July
2019. Current rating systems would remain in place until then.
Rates would be based on capital value, not land value. There would
be no ring-fencing of debt or assets.
Maori participation in decision-making would be provided via a
Maori Board and a Natural Resources Management Committee. We note
that there are lessons to be learned here from the Auckland
experience after Willie Jackson successfully sued the selection
body responsible for appointments to the Independent Maori
Timeline from here
If the draft proposal proceeds, the first elections for the new
council could be held in October 2016. However, once the Commission
makes its final recommendation, opponents will have 60 days to seek
a referendum – an outcome which seems almost certain given
the strong reactions to the Commission's report.
To trigger a referendum will require the support of at least 10%
of electors in any one of the affected districts. The smallest area
is in the Tararua where 11 rateable properties at the north-east
tip would be transferred into the Greater Wellington Council
region. Any ensuing poll must be supported by more than 50% of
valid votes cast, otherwise the amalgamation will not proceed.
Wellington vs Auckland
The Commission considers that the case for change is not as
compelling in Wellington as it was in Auckland as Wellington does
not have Auckland's growth pressures or the same level of
dysfunction between current councils.
One of the "lessons" the Commission has applied from
Auckland is to give the local boards more power than they have in
Auckland in respect of non-regulatory functions – e.g.
outside the Resource Management Act. For example, it is proposed
that they be able to influence decisions in regards to local
transport. In Auckland this is controlled centrally by Auckland
The information in this article is for informative purposes
only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact
Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.
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