Yes. The Council voted to remain with the First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system for the 2022 Council elections rather than change to use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) electoral system. 5% of electors have the right to request a poll to overturn this Council decision. Here is the public notice released after this Council meeting.

Under the Local Electoral Act, the Council may consider whether to establish Maaori wards as part of the representation review process. The Council has recently appointed Maangai Maaori (‘the voice of Maaori’) representatives on its three principal committees. Other ways to enable mana whenua to contribute to Council’s decision-making processes are also being explored.

Councillors can be chosen by electors across the whole District (i.e. ‘at large’) or for specific communities/areas with defined boundaries (i.e. wards). As part of the representation review, the Council can decide to have:

  • Two or more wards;
  • No wards (i.e. all Councillors are chosen ‘at large’ across the whole District; or
  • A combination of ‘at large’ and two or more wards.

The minimum number of councillors the Waikato District Council can have is five and the maximum is 29.

Community boards are an additional layer of local representation that provide an important link between a council and local communities. Boards can have between 4-12 members, at least four of whom must be chosen by voters in the Board area.

Councils that have well-defined communities with different characteristics and interests to the rest of the district may choose to have community boards.

A council must ensure it has the financial and other resources to establish and support a community board including elected board members' remuneration.

Read more about community boards here.

This is what determines whether there are wards and what their boundaries should be:

  • If electing all members on an at-large basis, (without wards), would lead to some communities not being effectively represented, then wards should be considered.
  • When deciding the size of wards and their boundaries, communities of interest should not be split. Different communities of interest should not be joined together into one ward.

This also determines where boundaries should be. It means that where there are wards, members should be equally spread among the population:

• The ratio of population to member within one ward should not vary from the average ratio for the whole of the governing body by more than 10 per cent. This is called the ‘+/- 10% rule’.

• However, it is possible for a council to not comply with this rule if complying would lead to a community of interest being split or distinct communities of interest joined. In that situation, the Local Government Commission makes the final decision.

The legislation does not specifically define Communities of Interest. The following contribute to a “community of interest”:

• People feeling a sense of identity and belonging to the area

• People using the same services

• Elected members being able to represent the interests of the area

It is important that a diverse representation of our District’s communities can engage in, and share their views on, the Council’s representation arrangements. This is how the stakeholder focus groups were formed:

  • The District was divided into three geographical areas (North; Centre; South).
  • Four categories of stakeholders would represent each area: businesses; community groups; Maaori; “other”.
  • 20 businesses are selected. Geographical and size characteristics are first considered before applying a process of random selection, if necessary.
  • 10 community groups (community boards or committees, religious, sports, non-profit, etc.) are selected taking into account geography before applying a process of random selection, if necessary.
  • 10 Maaori stakeholders are selected taking into account geography before applying a process of random selection, if necessary.
  • 10 other community stakeholders are selected taking into account geography before applying a process of random selection, if necessary. This category includes health care and social workers, police representative, schools, etc.
  • People on the list are contacted by phone in order of relevance for each category. If several contacts are equally relevant, then random selection is used. People are contacted until 25 participants have agreed to participate and a final list of participants is created. The ratio is 10 businesses and 5 of each of the other categories.

Note: random selection amongst possible options is more frequent with the businesses and Maaori categories. The limited number of community groups and “other” means that, in some cases, only one or two potential candidates exist for each area.

The residents’ focus groups should be as representative as possible of the District’s diverse communities. A random selection of participants was chosen from the electoral roll. Other lists such as youth (school) lists may be used for ensuring that young people who are not on the roll, but will be able to vote at the next elections, are still represented.

Through the random selection, we are endeavouring to attain:

  • Gender parity
  • 25% Maaori representation (to reflect the approximate proportion of Maaori in the District)
  • Rural/Urban proportionality