The Christchurch local representation map is being redrawn, per six-yearly requirement, ahead of the 2016 elections. This provides opportunity to strengthen communities – or to strengthen politicians – as significant change is unavoidable in complex circumstances. But left to their own devices, which do you think some politicians are endeavouring to do? That’s right. The obvious: a strengthening of power within their grasp.

Public pressure – DEMOCRACY – is required to make Christchurch politicians see sense. Naturally.

Where 55% polled have already said they want no change at all, this is not an option: the Banks Peninsula anomaly/gerrymander (feat Sir Bob Parker) has to end, central government has ruled, and because earthquake red-zoning has moved so many households westward that they have to be recounted. So would politicians propose the nearest amendment possible to no change at all, that people want, of minimised change that improves balance effectively? Of course not. That is why, in August-Sept 2015, you should HAVE YOUR SAY on the CCC Representation Review.[1]

To recap, this is what the Christchurch public has already said on this matter [2]:

CCC Rep Review Press poll 210715

CCC Rep Review Press poll 210715

The public do not want the community board system undermined. In fact, to do so would conflict with the current mayor’s stated purpose of strengthening communities and the delegated abilities of community boards. Against this, one third of those polled support a Labour-aligned councillor and board chair-led initiative to multiply total councillors to 16 (in whose interests?) A still higher proposal of 19 councillors has already been rejected, as has an amendment for reduction to below the current 13; but 19 is still being lobbied for hard, regardless.[3]

The 16-ward system proposed, that will go out for consultation later this month, redraws the community board map as serious dilution. The gain would be three extra councillors to what we have now, with community boards having to cover about 14% more territory each, because one (Hagley-Ferrymead) would be lost entirely. That is a direct challenge to the closer focus that resident communities now have, and would retain under a 14-ward system (two wards per board instead of the three being proposed).

The 14-ward system drafted is much better for local communities, does bring one extra councillor to the table, and each councillor will represent a much smaller number of people. This is the gain and the loss in the inevitable redraw of the Christchurch political map: where residents have two councillor representatives currently, except Banks Peninsula, in future they will have only one, like Banks Peninsula. Performance competition within each urban ward is going to be removed, after the local elections next year, thus (and is this actually good?) So getting the representation ratio down still further if possible – as 14 wards achieves – is very important; though the 14 ward boundaries drafted still need minor refinement – HAVE YOUR SAY on this later this month.

Here are the 14- and 16-ward maps and board areas for comparison, from the council agenda [4]:

CCC 14-ward draft 23Jul15

CCC 14-ward draft 23Jul15


CCC 14-ward draft Community Board areas 23Jul15

CCC 14-ward draft Community Board areas 23Jul15


CCC 16-ward proposal 23Jul15

CCC 16-ward proposal 23Jul15


CCC 16-ward Community Board areas 23Jul15

CCC 16-ward Community Board areas proposed 23Jul15

You can see how addition on one new ward per community board is going to increase competition for board attention by 50% (increased board area). You can watch streamed video of how the 16-ward proposal got decided.[5]

Morally there is cause for the new, 14th seat to be elected from the Maaori electoral roll, proportionally; but mana whenua, Kai/Ngai Tahu runanga is opposed. Process-wise, bureaucratically it is too late to be debating this aspect now; it is a critical consideration for the six-year period ahead. Towards a 15th seat in 2019 or 2022? …

To summarise: the 2015/16 CCC Representation Review provides excellent opportunity to strengthen communities, by clarifying suburban/rural area maps for community cohesion and collective voice. But the review process has been hijacked by politicians of one political stripe, trying to strengthen themselves in number – at the expense of community cohesion – illegitimately. Communities must strengthen themselves and push back to ensure resident say is not further reduced in prescribed city mapping transition.

Council, please do what is right. The Local Government Commission has authority to reject your 16-ward proposal, if it is unwarranted, unsubstantiated or poorly researched, and they have done so before – last time 16 wards were proposed here. Do not leave Christchurch with no democracy-plan iron in the fire by proposing something unreasonable on our behalf. Debacle lays ahead if you do.

Kia ora. Kia kaha Otautahi!

[1] http://www.ccc.govt.nz/the-council/have-your-say/whats-happening-now/representative-review/
[2] http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/70361468/christchurch-city-council-mulls-options-for-size-change
[3] http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/70417628/city-councillors-favour-upsizing
[4] http://www3.ccc.govt.nz/thecouncil/meetingsminutes/agendas/2015/July/ see agenda of 23 July 2015.
[5] http://councillive.ccc.govt.nz/tag/agenda-item/representation-review-2014-15

Update 5 Aug:
As Christchurch youth say, ‘the communities should govern’:

C.C.Council signs off its 2016 representation proposal next Thursday, 13 Aug, and will notify it Weds 26 Aug. Public submissions on the representation review close on Friday 9 Oct. Prepare to defend and enhance community voice! http://www.ccc.govt.nz/the-council/news-and-public-notices/council-selects-new-ward-option-for-public-consultation/ See 13 Aug agenda here: http://www3.ccc.govt.nz/thecouncil/meetingsminutes/agendas/2015/August/index.aspx

Current ward/board area population sizes range from 47.7k to 65.5k approx, with the Banks Peninsula exception of 8.2k – see http://www.ccc.govt.nz/the-council/how-the-council-works/council-wards/ 2013 Boundary maps: Google maps overview of all Christchurch wards https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zQ_JdJhdRN14.kHXUed_Xsj74

This critical range of community board representation numbers would change to:
16-ward model: between 63.5k & 66.1k + 19.8k (higher, makes representation worse, to increase councillors)
14-ward model: between 45.5k & 71.9k + 22.0k (lower/better balanced once refinement properly completed)

An ambition-laden, cost-saving proposal, the 16-ward model about to be released is a very clear attempt to shift decision-making power out of communities and into the council chamber. Where it increases community board areas by 50% and the councillor number on them by 50%, it increases the community board member number by just 20%. Is that what communities want, and is it fair?

It looks like council abandoned development of the 14-ward model, to leave it distorted and out of contention? A substandard effort here: finish the job and do it right please!

Use http://www.mashblock.co.nz to find boundary fixes, and read http://www.cashmere.org.nz/news/Cashmere-News-Diary-12Aug2015.html for why.

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