Representation Review

​​​​​​​​​​​​Who will speak for you?​​​​​​

​​By law, all councils have to do a Representation Review every 6 years.

The Review considers:

  • the number of voting areas (called 'wards'), if any, that is best for our city
  • whether we want to elect all, or some, of our councillors across the whole city or from two or more wards
  • how many councillors there should be
  • how many councillors there should be in each ward
  • whether we want to have community boards, and if so, how many members should they have, and which areas should they cover. 

Current situation

On Thursday 1 November 2018 the Council resolved to adopt its initial proposal - to retain the existing two-ward system - ​as its final proposal for representation for at the least the 2019 election. This two-ward system includes 12 councillors across two wards (East and West) separated by the Waikato River, with the Mayor elected 'at large' by all voters across the city, and no community boards. 

This decision followed a one-month formal consultation process which sought feedback from the public about the Council's initial proposal.  Formal consultation closed on Monday 24 September 2018 and on 9 October 2018, the Council met to consider the submissions received and to hear from verbal submitters.

An appeal period followed, and closed on 7 December 2018.  During this period, one appeal was received.  A final determination​​ was made by the Local Government Commission on 8 April 2019​.

Key documents​​

What is a Representation Review and what has been done so far?

The purpose of the Representation Review is to establish whether our current arrangements for fair and effective representation (our councillors and wards) meet our communities' needs and expectations.  In July 2018, we concluded the pre-consultation phase of the Review during which we sought feedback from the public about their views on a range of possible representation scenarios for the city. Elected Members considered the findings from this phase at a meeting on 16 August 2018, along with staff research into the demographic and social considerations. At this meeting, the Council decided that they believed the current two-ward system continues to be the best fit for Hamilton in 2019. This option then became the initial proposal for the month-long formal consultation period that commenced on 24 August 2018. The Council has an opportunity to review its representation arrangements again in three years' time which will coincide with a review of the electoral system.​

Our current representation arrangements

  • Here is a map which shows you what our city currently looks like - City​ ​Boundary 2016.pdf 
  • Hamilton has one Mayor who is elected by the whole of the city
  • Hamilton is currently divided by the Waikato River into two wards. Here is a map which clearly shows the boundaries of these wards - Ward Boundaries 2016.​​pdf
  • There are currently 12 councillors in total. Of these:
    • six are voted from the east side of the river (the East Ward)
    • six are elected from the west side of the river (the West ward)
  • Each voter also chooses one candidate for Mayor
  • Hamilton does not currently have community boards, nor has it at any stage in the past.

2018 Representation Review Timeline

12 AprilBriefing
12 JuneCouncil Briefing
16 AugustCouncil meeting (initial proposal resolved)
24 AugustOne month of formal consultation starts
​24 September​One month of formal consultation ends
9 OctoberCouncil meeting to hear verbal submissions
1 NovemberCouncil meeting​ to decide final proposal
​3 November​Final proposal ​publicly notified 
7 December Period to lodge an appeal to the final proposal closes
15 January All materials forwarded to LGC
February/MarchLGC Hearings (if required)
8 April LGC determine the outcome of their investigation

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Maaori representation being considered as part of this process?

Exploring Maaori representation via the establishment of dedicated Maaori wards was the first part of the Representation Review process. Council resolved in October 2017 to explore models of representation other than wards, and then, on 2 August 2018, approved a proposal to appoint five Maaori representatives to four existing Council committees. These representatives are due to be appointed and commence in their new roles in mid-October 2018.  ​

Does this Review include the electoral system?​

No. The electoral system (i.e. how the voting works) used for Council's triennial elections is not up for review at this time. Councils are required by the legislation to periodically to consider the options of First-Past-the-Post (FPP), which is Hamilton City Council's current system, or Single Transferable Vote (STV), which is used for DHB and some other councils' elections. However Council's 2013 Electoral System Referendum triggered by the last review cycle choose FPP for the 2016 and 2019 Council elections, and therefore the electoral system is not being reviewed in this round.

What are the options for voting areas?

  1. two voting areas (wards) divided by the Waikato River – this is our current system which requires voters to choose from candidates standing in the ward in which they are registered on the electoral roll.
  2. more than two voting areas (wards) – new boundaries for each voting area would need to be determined. Voters would choose from candidates standing in the voting area in which they are registered on the electoral roll.
  3.  'at large' – there would be no wards, and voters would choose from all candidates standing across the whole city
  4. a combination of 'at-large' voting and specific voting areas (wards) - voters would choose some candidates standing across the whole city, and other candidates standing in a voting area in which the voter is registered on the electoral roll.

What are community boards all about?

Community boards are an additional layer of representation that report directly to the Council. They can have 4-12 members, at least four of whom are 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.  For instance, Waipa District Council has two community boards representing Cambridge and Te Awamutu.

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​.

How many councillors can we have?

The minimum number of councillors Hamilton can have is five and the maximum is 29.

I own more than one property in Hamilton. How do I know which voting area I can vote in?

You can only vote in one voting area, which is the one in which you are registered on the electoral roll.

I live outside of Hamilton but own property in Hamilton. Can I still have a say?

If you own property in Hamilton but live outside of it and you may be able to register to vote in Hamilton on the ratepayer roll. If this situation affects you, complete the ratepayer enrolment form here​

How do these decisions impact on how much candidates can spend on their election campaigns?

The spending limit for a candidate does depend on the population of the voting area in which candidate is standing. For example, at the 2016 Hamilton City Council election, a mayoral candidate (standing city-wide with a population of around 157,000) could spend up to $60,000 in​cl GST, whereas a candidate for the West Ward (population 74,500) could spend up to $40,000 incl GST and a candidate for East Ward (population 82,500) could spend up to $50,000 incl GST. The population bands and maximum expenditure are found h​ere​

Find out more and stay involved

​Find out more information about the Representation Review here:

You can also reach us at ​​

Page reviewed: 28 Feb 2020 2:17pm