law, all councils have to undertake a Representation Review at least once
every 6 years (may be after 3 years), or if Maaori wards are being introduced’.
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.
In August 2021, Hamilton City Council underwent a wider representation review, following the decision in May 2021 to establish Maaori wards for the next two local government elections. We sought feedback over a six-week period on our initial proposal for wider representation arrangements. The review was done to ensure fair and effective representation for all Hamiltonians, in line with legislative requirements.
Our initial proposal was to:
- Retain current general ward arrangement of six councillors elected in the East Ward, and six councillors elected in the West Ward.
- Retain the mayor elected at-large.
- Increase the total number of Councillors to 14.
- Introduce one city-wide Maaori ward with two Maaori ward councillors.
- Not introduce community boards.
We received 451 submissions with a variety of views put forward.
- 177 responses (39%) supported the initial proposal in its entirety.
- 274 responses (61%) did not support the initial proposal in its entirety.
- 12 people had their say at the Hearing and Engagement Committee meeting via zoom.
The consultation asked submitters whether they supported the initial proposal or not, and why. There were four key components of the proposal, of which 3 out of 4 were supported by most of those who commented on them as below:
- Increase total number of Councillors to 14: Of the 296 who commented on this, 143 (48%) supported the proposed increase to 14 Councillors.
- Retain the current East/West general ward arrangements with 6 Councillors in each: Of the 175 who commented on this, 105 (60%) supported keeping the current East and West general wards.
- Introduce a city-wide Maaori ward with two Maaori ward Councillors: Of the 52 who commented on this, 41 (79%) supported a city-wide Maaori ward.
- No community boards: Of the 43 who commented on this, 27 respondents (63%) disagreed with the proposal and instead sought the introduction of community boards.
Many comments (over a third) were on topics out of scope for this consultation, particularly in relation to Maaori wards - a decision which has already been made. This has tended to slightly skew the ratio of support/non-support of the proposal. Therefore, it is important to note that:
- 99 comments from the 274 submissions that did not support the initial proposal said this was because they did not support the introduction of Maaori wards.
- If the submissions rejecting the proposal on these grounds are disregarded as out of scope, the balance of submissions for and against the initial proposal is closer to 50/50.
- Several submissions also referenced inadequate levels of Maaori representation in general. However, the number of Maaori ward seats is determined by population proportion set by legislation.