10 August 2012
Number of Councillors to be decided by Local Government Commission
A decision about how many Councillors should represent the Gisborne district will be decided by the Local Government
Appeals have been received against Gisborne District Council’s decision on its final proposal to keep the current
representation arrangements of 14 Councillors and a Mayor. Eight Councillors represent Gisborne city and the six rural
wards each have one councillor.
People who made a submission against Council’s initial proposal have until 28 August 2012 to appeal against the final
proposal. The appeals are then forwarded to the Local Government Commission. The Commission only need to receive one
appeal before they get involved. They consider Local Electoral Act Guidelines, reports to Council, all submissions made
and the options Council looked at. They will then decide on Gisborne district representation arrangements for the next
local body election. A decision from the Local Government Commission will be received before 10 April 2013.
Council consulted on keeping the current arrangements - which includes using the First Past the Post electoral system,
no Maori wards and no community boards - in May and June this year. Council received 205 submissions of which 130
supported the current arrangements and 72 opposed them. After listening to 13 people speak to their submission Council
voted 8 Councillors to 6 in favour of keeping the status quo.
The decision was based on the challenges of effectively representing people across the large area of the district, its
remoteness, sparse population and relative isolation. Also considered was providing the best opportunity for Māori to be
elected on Council and reflecting the fact that Gisborne District Council is a Unitary Council looking after both
regional and territorial functions.
Submitters who opposed the status quo proposal mentioned the fact that the current arrangements do not meet the Local
Electoral Act’s requirement for fair representation, a perceived bias in council decisions benefitting rural residents
and that the city population is under represented despite paying the majority of rates. Thirty three submitters felt
Council should adopt a model that is close to complying with Local Electoral Act’s guidelines. This would see the number
of Councillors reduced to 12 and some wards merged so that there were only 4 rural wards.
The Local Electoral Act Guidelines state that to be fair for each ward a Councillor must represent the same number of
people, plus or minus 10 percent. In the Gisborne district this would mean that each Councillor would need to represent
between 2,993 and 3,658 people. Under the current arrangements a city ward Councillor represents 4,125 people. The Cook
Ward Councillor represents 1,780 people.