Application made to potentially review Rodney’s internal election boundaries.

11 November 2020. The Mayor and Councillors will be asked if they potentially support changing subdivision election boundaries within the northern local board area of Rodney in an effort to strengthen political representation for both the townships and its rural population.

Importantly, the proposal is not a criticism of the performance of any currently elected member, nor whether or not the Rodney ward is being treated fairly in resource allocations by the Governing Body or the Rodney Local Board.

In May 2020 the High Court rejected an appeal by Northern Action Group (NAG) to overturn a Local Government Commission (LGC) decision on the future of north Rodney. NAG’s appeal contested an LGC decision which refused to allow the northern part of Rodney to separate from the Auckland Supercity.   

Trying a new tactic, this month (Nov 2021) in a formal Notice of Motion presented to the Chief Executive of Auckland Council, and the Mayor, the seven Councillors are seeking an early review of the Rodney Local Board area subdivision boundaries in time for the 2022 local body elections.  

The request is being led by The Northern Action Group who approached their local Rodney ward Councillor Greg Sayers to float the proposal with the Mayor and other Councillors.

Cr Sayers says he was duty bound to pass on the application to the Council.

This required the signatures of seven Councillors before the proposal could be considered by the Governing Body. These were Cr Collins Cr Fletcher, Cr Sayers, Cr Stewart, Cr Walker, Cr Watson and Cr Young. Four other Councillors also wanted to sign, making up over 50 per cent political support for the proposal to be considered for advancement or it be declined.

The Council will assess the application prior to Christmas. “The Council will have to assess the practicality, costs and timing of the application,” says Cr Sayers.

In February this year the Governing Body of Auckland Council voted no further action would be taken to review election representation arrangements for the 2022 elections, instead choosing to do so for the 2025 local body elections. To modify that decision a new resolution would have to be passed, on 17 December, agreeing to publicly consult on the subdivision boundaries potentially being redrawn.

If the supported by the majority of Councillors the process requires Auckland Council to undertake public consultation, then make a final recommendation which must be reviewed by the Local Government Commission who make the final determination. The total number of Local Board members remain at nine.

“The proposal suggests a different way to give strong representation to both Rodney’s townships and rural areas. This is achieved by more tightly grouping together those communities with common interests, which in turn allows elected representatives to better service the different residents and ratepayer’s needs which are present across Rodney’s mixed-use landscape,” says North Action Group spokesperson Bill Foster. “As is allowed already, a candidate does not have to live within an electorate area in order to run for election”.

“Unlike the rest of Auckland the Rodney district is largely rural. However, the current subdivision electoral boundaries are oriented around the town centres but have large districts of rural landholdings appended to them and this can muddle rural needs against urban needs”, says Foster. “What has been presented is proposing the township boundaries be tightly aligned to the township perimeters so urban and rural ratepayers receive more targeted political representation.”

Any changes to the Rodney Local Board election boundaries would not affect land zonings or the amount of rates people pay. It would simply be a change in what geographical areas Rodney’s elected Local Board members would represent.   

The proposal does not allocate any special preferences, such as Maori seats.

“Basically the application is saying we can’t keep kicking the can down the road,” Foster says. “This could well be a reflection of the current political boundaries being drawn up in the rush to create the Super City, so the Mayor and Councillor’s will assess if they agree with relooking at the political boundaries of representation for Rodney, or not.”

The request to initiate the review of the Rodney Local Board subdivision boundaries is expected to be debated at the Governing Body committee meeting on 17 December 2020. 

Update: The proposal was voted down after the majority of the Rodney Local Board spoke out against the idea, and presented to the Governing Body to not even put the proposal out to gain some public feedback from Rodney’s residents & ratepayers. Another sad day for democracy.