12 Dec 2017

Wairarapa says no to council amalgamation

8:56 pm on 12 December 2017

A proposed amalgamation of the three district councils in Wairarapa has been rejected by residents.

In March, the Local Government Commission released a draft proposal for a combined Wairarapa District Council.

A postal poll started in late November on the plan, and closed today.

Nearly all of the votes towards the proposal have been counted, and show 58 percent of voters did not want the councils to combine, while 41 percent did.

South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton district councils will continue to operate as they are.

Local Government Commission chair Sir Wira Gardiner said the commission's work has highlighted the need for the three councils to work together to deliver better services for ratepayers.

The result is seen as a lost opportunity by Masterton district mayor Lyn Patterson.

Ms Patterson supported the three councils amalgamating.

"There is more and more work and services that we need [to] deliver and I believe by amalgamating the three Wairarapa councils we would have increased the capacity and capability to meet those demands and better serve our community."

Ms Patterson said the community had spoken, and the result gave certainty to council staff, councillors, and the community.

Her South Wairarapa counterpart, Viv Napier, said she was surprised so many voted against the councils merging.

She thought the result might be closer.

Ms Napier said she had mixed views on the amalgamation proposal.

"Our community from South Wairarapa was very much concerned about the loss of representation which obviously came through in the result, but I also believe there were some positive things as far as amalgamation went as well."

She said there were many opportunities for the three councils to work together with amalgamation off the table.

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