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Rural representation on the BoP regional council - is it fair?

Lincoln University. Faculty of Commerce. Kellogg Rural Leaders Programme.
Publication Date
  • Bay Of Plenty
  • User Pays
  • Council Representation
  • Maori Representation
  • Rural Representation
  • Law
  • Political Science


In searching for a topic I have three issues that dominate my life. One, I am a chartered accountant, two a regional councillor and three a rural ratepayer. All of this points me to the view that user pays then should have the say. Bay of Plenty is an extremely prosperous region, very low per capita regional rate take, but is very dependent on how the district council collect their rates generally on a land value system. The Bay of Plenty region had to review its representation 2003 as prior councils through extensive consulting had determined there should be separate seats for Maori. The Maori census population in the Bay of Plenty is some 25% , New Zealand 14% and within district councils in the Bay run from 16% in Tauranga to 56% in Kawerau, in all cases above the rational average. Councils throughout New Zealand are also now bulk funded for remuneration and after substantial consultation by the authority with councils formulas were developed to rank councils up with formulas to rate councils and their pay rates. The new Local Government Act 2002 started to talk about commumtIes of interest, community outcomes and clearly with the Ratings Act user pays principles. Clearly I believed t ~ scenc~as set for a constructive analysis and subsequent result for Bay of Plenty representation. The author being an astute politician forgot about politics, forgot that logic and councils current policies would win the day, ended up in the trenches fighting for rural representation based on the number of Maori seats. Councillors didn't want to go to 14 councillors, their pay would drop from about $42,000 to $36,000. Most Western Bay! Tauranga councillors got elected on the basis Maori should not have separate seats while the law says two, they sure weren't going to get three. All submissions said 3 Maori, 14 total, however Western Bay! Tauranga councillors didn't want 3 Maori or 14 councillors because that would have created a more difficult decision regarding who either Rotorua or Eastern Bay should drop one. Even though Tauranga didn't pay the rates there was no way six councillors would go to five. It has become very clear to the author that to get fair rural representation not only is it councillors we need but the rural community standing up lobbying, having their say, doing their bit but clearly watching out for the majority putting the cost onto the minority. Is representation fair in the Bay of Plenty? Maori say no, District Councils say no the urban dominated Bay of Plenty Council says yes. At this stage fairness does not come into it.

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