LocalMatters       

Call for Rodney Board subdivision boundary change

Posted at 12:46pm Monday 16 Nov, 2020

Now and then – existing Local Board boundaries, left, and the proposed changes.
Now and then – existing Local Board boundaries, left, and the proposed changes.

A bid to alter Rodney Local Board subdivision electoral boundaries to give rural and urban residents better political representation has been put in motion by Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers and the Northern Action Group (NAG).

They are proposing to shrink the Warkworth and Kumeu subdivisions dramatically to align them more tightly with town boundaries and urban parameters, and introduce new rural subdivision taking in South Head, Kaukapakapa, Puhoi, Kaipara Flats, Wellsford, Pakiri and even Kawau Island. The existing Dairy Flat subdivision would stay as it is.

Under the new arrangement, Kumeu and Warkworth would each have two elected board members (instead of four and three respectively), rural would have four, including one who would hopefully be nominated or supported by iwi, and Dairy Flat one.

Cr Sayers submitted a notice of motion signed by seven councillors and a background paper by NAG chairman Bill Foster on Friday, November 6 to Auckland Council's chief executive and the Mayor, asking for the matter to be heard and debated on Thursday, December 17.

“This proposal suggests a way to give stronger representation to Rodney's townships and rural areas by more tightly grouping together those communities with common interests,” Cr Sayers says. “Unlike the rest of Auckland, the Rodney district is largely rural. The current subdivision boundaries are oriented around the town centres, but also have large districts of rural land and this can muddle rural needs against urban needs.

“This proposal would make things more clear. It's for stronger and more targeted political representation.”

In his report, Mr Foster says a review to change the boundaries is needed before the 2022 local elections, rather than waiting until 2025, as scheduled by Council.

“Mounting rates increases and regulation are having huge impacts on the financial and social wellbeing of Rodney's rural communities,” he says. “Three years can be a long time in politics if you are adversely affected.”

He says Local Board priority is currently being given to things people in “small urban” areas want, such as footpaths, cycleways, public transport, recreation and town centre facilities and services.

“The wants and needs of rural voters, like road maintenance and sealing – Rodney has 670km of unsealed roads – and drainage, receive proportionately less attention.”

NAG member and Tapora resident Julie Cotton says Council's urban-centric narrative has resulted in poor and regressive outcomes for community wellbeing in Rodney's rural communities.

“The creation of a ‘rural subdivision' within Rodney will be instrumental in restoring respect and faith in the Governing Body, which has historically been seen by these communities as an impediment to their equality and social justice,” she says.

If the majority of councillors vote in favour of initiating the review process next month, Council will come up with an initial proposal and seek public feedback.

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