Wellington Scoop

Reducing the number of councillors in Masterton

News from LDR
The number of Masterton councillors will be reduced from 10 to eight, should a representative review go ahead in its current form. Councillors will meet on Monday to discuss the review which will then go to public consultation. The changes also include the introduction of a Māori, general, and at large ward.

Changes would take effect for the 2022 and 2025 local government elections and were workshopped with community stakeholders.

Currently, 10 Masterton councillors are elected at large, as well as a mayor.

Post-review, four councillors would be elected from the general ward, three from at large, and one from the Māori ward.

A mayor would be elected at large.

For comparison, Carterton and Tararua district councils have nine elected members, including the mayor.
 South Wairarapa has 10 elected members, including the mayor.

The initial proposal for Masterton stated a reduction in the number of councillors would “improve remuneration for councillors and may attract more diverse candidates to stand for council”.

The average salary with 10 councillors is $39,288 in Masterton. With eight councillors, the average salary would be $49,110.

Under the Local Electoral Act 2001 [the Act], councils must review representation arrangements at least every six years. Masterton’s last review was completed in 2018 but the council brought forward this review to enable implementation of the Māori Ward.

Councillors agreed in May to establish this for the next election.

Once public consultation on the changes opens, people will have one month to have their say. They will also get the opportunity to lodge an appeal or objection to the final proposal.

Regarding the new Māori Ward, only electors enrolled on the Māori electoral roll can vote for candidates in the Māori Ward.

Only electors enrolled on the general electoral roll can vote for candidates in the general ward.

Everyone can vote for candidates standing in the at large ward and the mayor.

The Māori Ward currently has 3360 electors enrolled in the Masterton district.

Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitāne iwi would still be represented by appointed members on council committees.

The formal consultation period is scheduled to launch on Friday, September 3. Consultation is to close on October 4 and hearings are scheduled for October 13. The cost of public consultation is estimated to be about $5000, excluding the cost of staff time. The introduction of a community board has not been deemed necessary in the review.

Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils would not be reviewing representation for the 2022 election. Carterton’s last representation review was in 2019 and South Wairarapa’s was in 2018.