Sunday, April 14, 2024

Hamilton to vote on extra Councillors

Hamilton City Councillors are proposing to add two more seats to the Council table.

Elected Members today agreed to consult on an initial proposal for how Hamiltonians will be represented by Council. The proposal keeps the current East and West general wards with six councillors elected from each ward, the mayor elected ‘at large’, and two new Maaori ward councillors to be elected citywide.

In May, Hamilton City Council voted to introduce Maaori wards in time for the 2022 Council elections. This will be the first time Council will have dedicated elected representation for Maaori among their city councillors.

The decision to introduce Maaori wards triggered the need for Council to review its representation structure – including the overall number of councillors, the ward system and whether there is a need for community boards.

Mayor, Paula Southgate acknowledged there was already a lot of change ahead for voters, noting more than half didn’t vote in the last election.

“With the introduction of the STV (single transferable voting) voting system and Maaori wards in 2022, we’re not looking to make any other changes. That’s already quite a bit for people to deal with when we are working hard to increase interest and engagement in Council business,” she said.

“Iwi and maataa waka have advised their preference is for one citywide Maaori ward and we’ve taken that on board.”

Any New Zealand citizen over the age of 18 can stand for either the general ward, Maaori ward, or for Mayor.

Only those on the Maaori electoral role can vote for candidates contesting a Maaori ward seat. One citywide Maaori ward means all voters on the Maaori electorate roll can vote for up to two Maaori ward candidates.

Only those on the general electoral roll can vote for candidates contesting a East or West Ward seat (depending on where they live). Everyone can vote for the Mayor.

Significant research completed in 2018 identified Hamilton did not have underrepresented communities that would benefit from smaller community boards.

Hamiltonians are being encouraged to provide feedback on the proposal from 25 August at hamilton.govt.nz/haveyoursay.

The initial proposal is

  • keep the current arrangement of 12 councillors elected from two wards (East and West)
  • the two wards, divided by the Waikato River, are to have six councillors representing each ward
  • two citywide Maaori ward councillors
  • the mayor elected ‘at large’ across the whole city
  • no community boards.

Submissions on the proposal close on 6 October. Council will then hear verbal submissions on 13 October, with a final decision due on 11 November. That decision is then open to an appeal period.

Maaori wards and the new representation structure would be implemented for the 2022 elections.

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