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Published: 2007-04-11 00:00:00

Environment Waikato’s decision to reduce the number of constituencies and councillors for this year’s local body elections has been confirmed.

The Local Government Commission yesterday announced its decision on Environment Waikato’s membership and constituency arrangements after considering an appeal from the Hauraki District Council against the regional council’s decision to reduce the number of constituencies from 10 to eight, and the number of elected members from 14 to 12.

The change sees one of the smallest constituencies, Hauraki, with 16,750 people merged into an enlarged North Waikato-Hauraki constituency of 32,100 people, represented by one councillor. The Waihi ward of the Hauraki constituency becomes part of the Thames-Coromandel constituency.

The North King Country and Waipa constituencies are also to merge and will be represented by two councillors covering a combined population of 61,200.

Chairman Jenni Vernon said the outcome reflected councillors’ focus on achieving fair and effective representation across the region.

“When it comes to addressing the big picture issues that affect the entire region, 12 is the appropriate number of councillors for our current population, with eight constituencies providing for effective representation of communities of interest based on land use and council functions,” she said.

Coastal areas, for example, are defined by their recreational and lifestyle opportunities, other areas are based on forestry or farming, while Hamilton city is the region’s commercial hub.

In defining these communities of interest, the council also considered key functions that are common to more than one territorial authority or constituency such as the management of water quality and allocation, river catchments, transport links, biosecurity and civil defence.

“Activities such as the sustainable management of natural resources, the protection of people and property from natural hazards, and the planning and provision of regional transport span all territorial boundaries.

Under the Local Government Act, councils must review their representation arrangements at least every six years to ensure ward boundaries and representation meet population-based criteria.

The local authorities triennial elections will be held on 13 October.

Environment Waikato’s new constituencies are:

Thames-Coromandel (Coromandel-Colville, Coromandel Peninsula East, Thames wards of Thames Coromandel District Council, Waihi ward of Hauraki District Council) 1 (33,000)
North Waikato-Hauraki (Waiuku-Awhitu and southern wards of Franklin District Council within the Waikato region, Whangamarino and Rangiriri wards of Waikato District Council, Plains and Paeroa wards of Hauraki District Council) 1 (32,100)
Central Waikato (Waikato District Council wards of Ngaruawahia, Whangape, Eureka, Huntly, Hukanui, Newcastle, Raglan and Whaingaroa) 1 (33,300)
Matamata-Piako (Morrinsville, Te Aroha, Matamata wards of Matamata-Piako District Council) 1 (30,300)
Hamilton (West, East and South wards of Hamilton City and the Tamahere ward of Waikato District Council) 4 (134,900)
Waipa-King Country (Pirongia, Cambridge, Maungatautari, Te Awamutu, Kakepuke wards of Waipa District Council, Kawhia, Tihiroa, Kiokio-Korakonui, Otorohanga, Wharepuhunga and Waipa wards of Otorohanga District Council and Waitomo rural and Te Kuiti wards of Waitomo District Council) 2 (61,200)
South Waikato – Rotorua (Tirau, Putaruru, Tokoroa wards of South Waikato District Council and parts of East, West and South wards of Rotorua District within the Waikato region) 1 (26,400)
Taupo (Mangakino-Pouakani, Taupo, parts of Kaingaoa and Turangi-Tongariro wards of Taupo District Council) 1 (33,600)