Wellington Scoop

Wellington councillors offer four options for electoral changes

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council today approved community consultation for its Representation Review Initial Proposal, a requirement following its decision in May to establish a Māori ward.

The review will seek submissions on the total number of councillors, whether any councillors should be elected at-large (by the whole city), the number of wards (electoral subdivisions), the boundaries, names, and number of councillors for each ward and what community boards there should be (if any).

Four options were investigated and reported on to Councillors. These are:

• Status quo plus Māori ward plus variations on the status quo

• 5 general wards plus one Māori ward and some councillors at-large

• 3 general wards plus one Māori ward and some councillors at-large

• 6 general wards plus one Māori ward and some councillors at-large

“We are statutorily required to undertake a representation review every 6 years. The last review was only for the 2019 election, and the only reason a review is required this time is because we’ve already made the decision to establish a Maori ward,” said Mayor Andy Foster.

“Because of that, and the Maori ward decision only being made in May, we have not had the time to undertake the analysis or the early community engagement which a full review would ideally require. On that basis, and because of the substantial number of major issues we will be putting in front of our community over the pre Christmas period, we did not want to add a substantial change to the electoral arrangements.”.

“Council and community are about to enter into major governance work and consultation on hugely important issues such as the larger components of Let’s Get Wellington Moving, a new District Plan, our Cycleways Plan, Solid Waste management plan, a new Economic Strategy and much more. Agreeing on the status quo with the addition of the Māori ward seems the sensible option at this time.

“In agreeing to this review and consultation we are sending a clear message; this council understands our community is evolving in a way that, directs openness to Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi and is seeking more inclusive representation if we are live in a city of equality.”

Deputy Mayor Sarah Free said that there are pros and cons with all the options, including that over time the current representation (ratio of councillors to number of residents) has become less balanced in some wards. However, communities are being asked at present to take on board a lot of change, and it must be asked whether changing the ward system is a high priority for the city right now, said the Deputy Mayor.

“It may make more sense to have a comprehensive review in three years’ time, once we know the outcome of the review of local government. Also, the change to have iwi representatives and a Maori Ward will have had time to bed in and we will have the results of the 2023 Census. However, this is a matter for the public to determine and we welcome hearing their views.”

Cr Jill Day said Wellingtonians strongly supported the creation of a Maori ward to honour our commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“Today we have taken another step towards doing that. The creation of a Maori ward should not trigger wholesale change; it’s about correcting an historic wrong. The law shouldn’t require a city-wide review of representation when a Maori ward is introduced, and I hope the Government will reform this area of law.”

Public consultation on the Council’s Representation Review Initial Proposal will commence 4 September ending 4 October with a meeting 12 October for oral submissions.

Reducing the number of councillors in Masterton


  1. Concerned Wellingtonian, 27. August 2021, 7:00

    Jill Day’s comments show that she voted for a Maori Ward without having a clue that a good look at the other Wards was a legal requirement.
    There is a very good reason for having a very good look. The last thing wanted by Wellingtonians is an easy path to re-election by the sitting Councillors. Their abandonment of the requirement to have population variances of less than 10% is simple proof of their self-interest.

  2. Ray Chung, 27. August 2021, 14:41

    Jill Day states that Wellingtonians strongly supported a Māori ward, but in discussions with our Resident Association members this was not their response. It’s all very well to say she has support of Wellingtonians but who are they? Let’s see some empirical data please.

  3. Peter Kerr, 27. August 2021, 16:42

    Ray, have you considered that the views of the members of the Resident Association might not quite represent the range of opinion among the city’s population?

  4. Kara, 27. August 2021, 17:19

    Kia Kaha Cr Day. I would support 3 general wards plus a Māori ward. Not sure about some councillors being at large. High time MMP is applied to local elections.

  5. Marion Leader, 27. August 2021, 17:44

    Peter Kerr, do you know how Jill Day went about assessing public opinion on having a Māori Ward?

  6. Ray Chung, 27. August 2021, 20:18

    Hi Peter, the views of the members of our Residents Association represent their own views, pure and simple. What I’m asking is who are the Wellingtonians who Jill Day maintains are strongly in support of this Maori ward and I have asked for the data on who these people canvassed, not the names of course but the demographics, number and the questions asked would be good. Saying a majority is meaningless unless we have that metadata. Do you agree that this is a fair enough question?

  7. TrevorH, 28. August 2021, 8:29

    Michael: my recollection is that in fact only iwi were consulted.

  8. Concerned Wellingtonian, 28. August 2021, 9:22

    Michael, the idea of a Maori Ward did indeed go out for consultation. Since, however, the Jill Days of this world knew that it was an unpopular idea they passed a resolution to confine the consultation to Maori. The result was solemnly reported on this basis and they went ahead regardless of the views of the majority.
    With respect, you should know by now that this is the way the Wellington City Council usually operates.

  9. D'Esterre, 28. August 2021, 12:15

    “Cr Jill Day said Wellingtonians strongly supported the creation of a Maori ward to honour our commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.” Jill Day has no idea what Wellingtonians think about this issue, because they weren’t asked for their opinion. CW’s recollection above is correct. I also recall Ray Chung saying he’d attempted to make a submission, but was told he couldn’t, because he isn’t Maori. NZ is supposed to be a modern, representative, colour-blind democracy. It cannot be made to work in any other way.

  10. michael, 28. August 2021, 14:50

    The decision to not consult all Wellingtonians is not only undemocratic it is disrespectful towards both Māori and non-Māori. Even if the outcome would have been the same, Jill Day cannot claim that “Wellingtonians strongly supported the creation of a Māori ward.” Apart from Councillors achieving their desired outcome, the lack of consultation across all Wellingtonians has caused resentment and division, and a lack of trust in the neutrality of the WCC.

  11. Ray Chung, 28. August 2021, 15:21

    I called the council to register an interest to present a submission on the Maori wards and was told that only Mana Whenua, Maori and Community Groups were being invited to submit. I replied that I was the VP of the Onslow Residents Association. I was then asked whether I was for or against the proposal and I replied that you’ll find out when I present my submission. I was never invited to submit.

  12. Peter B, 28. August 2021, 18:18

    I do not support individual wards for any section of the community. Democracy calls for all in Welly city to have the opportunity to consider the option directly.