Southland District Council is currently undertaking a representation review, which may result in changes to the way Council is elected and structured in the future.

This includes a review of

  • the number of wards (electoral areas within Southland)
  • ward boundaries
  • the number of councillors that represent your ward
  • the community boards, including the number, boundaries and subdivisions of the community boards and the number of members for each board.

What is the representation review?

Local elections are held every three years so you can decide who will represent you at the Council table and on the community boards. To make sure that residents have fair and effective representation, all councils must review their representation arrangements at least every six years.

Council last undertook a representation review in 2018 in preparation for the 2019 elections. The key focus of that review was developing a community governance and representation arrangement framework to work more effectively for the people of Southland.  The 2018 review led to substantial changes to the arrangements and part of the purpose of this review is to assess and check in on how those changes are working.

What is the current situation?

At present, the Council is made up of the mayor, who is elected by all voters in the Southland district (also referred to as at large), and 12 councillors, who are elected by voters within each of the five existing wards: Mararoa Waimea (3), Waiau Aparima (3), Oreti (3), Waihopai Toetoe (2), Stewart Island/Rakiura (1)

There are nine community boards:

  • Fiordland
  • Northern (divided into three subdivisions)
  • Ardlussa
  • Tuatapere Te Waewae
  • Wallace Takitumu
  • Oraka Aparima
  • Oreti (divided into three subdivisions)
  • Waihopai Toetoe
  • Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Oreti and Waihopai Toetoe community boards have seven elected members and one member who is appointed by Council while the other boards have six elected members and one Council appointee.

Current representation structure

What does the review look at?

How the review is undertaken is set out in the Local Electoral Act 2001. Council must provide for effective representation of communities of interest, and fair representation of voters. This includes ensuring each elected member represents a similar number of people.

What are wards and subdivisions?

Wards and subdivisions are purely ways of splitting up a council area (wards) or community board area (subdivisions) into smaller areas for election purposes. They serve a similar function to electorates for national elections. Wards and subdivisions must comply with the requirements for effective representation of communities of interest and fair representation.

What are community boards?

Community boards are an elected body that operates at a local level, within a ward, to consider local issues and provide local representation. Currently, Southland District has 9 community boards.

How does this affect my rates?

Councillors are funded from district rates, but changes to the ward boundaries or the number of councillors will not have a significant impact on rates. 

Councillors’ remuneration is based on a fixed pool of funds which is set independently by a government agency, the Remuneration Authority. This amount does not go up or down in relation to the number of councillors. It also means that any change in the number of councillors would not affect the total amount paid to councillors overall, as the total is divided between the number of elected members. 

Community boards are funded by a targeted rate within the respective ward. 

What is the process for the representation review?

Before we reach a proposal on the representation arrangements, we want to get the community’s feedback on communities and representation. This is where we are in the process now.

The survey on Make it Stick is an opportunity for you to provide us with your feedback.

You have until 8 December 2023 to provide us with your views. For members of our community that wish to provide feedback non-digitally there are also hardcopy surveys located at each of our area offices.

Council will consider the community’s feedback, along with other analysis and community information, before making a decision on any changes to proceed with. The decision will be in the form of an ‘Initial Proposal’ which will go out to the community for formal consultation in June/July 2024.

Anyone can make a submission on the initial proposal. After considering all submissions and holding hearings (if required) council will publicly notify the final proposal. Any objections or appeals to the final proposal are sent to the Local Government Commission, which makes the final decision.

Ward and community board map