10 Apr 2015

Wairarapa iwi favour super city

7:36 am on 10 April 2015

A Wairarapa iwi authority supports the creation of a super city council for the Wellington region - a position at odds with the views of the region's local mayors.

The Local Government Commission proposes to merge all nine councils from Wellington to Kāpiti Coast and Wairarapa.

Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, P.J. Devonshire, said his rūnanga supports the move so long as the iwi voice is not diminished.

"We expect the current representation that we have across Greater Wellington Regional Council, Masterton District Council, Carterton District Council and the South Wairarapa District Council, our expectation is that our representation would be nothing less than what we currently have", Mr Devonshire said.

"In whichever model comes forward we're actually looking [at] where do we want to have better representation across what might come from this current debate I suppose of the super city proposal".

Mr Devonshire said Nelson Rangi, chair of Ara Tahi inter-iwi representative group on the Wellington Regional Council, had been talking to the Independent Māori Statutory Board in Auckland to understand how that body works.

"As part of this whole process, some of the representatives from Auckland came and spoke to us about what it looks like for them up there in terms of the super city... and some of the things that they've found with [the type] of representation [for Māori]".

Mr Devonshire admitted there had been some concerns among some iwi members who feared the Wairarapa rohe would become "swallowed up in a bigger organisation" and that some of their local issues would get overlooked.

He said Māori in the rohe had told him they lived in a rural environment and had different needs to the people living on the other side of the Rimutakas.

He said like most iwi, opinions differ from hapū to hapū, marae to marae and whānau to whānau.

The Ngāti Kahungunu man said his rūnanga will hold hui throughout the rohe to get more feedback.

Mayors disapprove of merger

Despite the Wairarapa iwi authority favouring a super city, the proposal by the Local Government Commission has been rejected by the eight mayors within the Greater Wellington Region.

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown recently said the commission's recommendation for "one uber-council Miramar to Masterton" would struggle to gain support in a referendum - and the area was too big for one council to cover.

Lower Hutt mayor Ray Wallace said the proposal was a backwards step for the region.

The three Wairarapa district councils - Carterton, Masterton and South Wairarapa - had put in a separate application to join as one authority - but not with Wellington.

Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson was disappointed the commission proposed the three councils be merged with the rest of the region.

Upper Hutt City Council has made a submission opposing the suggestion because it said its ratepayers will have to repay debt from across the region, and said that was not fair because it has been prudent over the years.

And Kāpiti Coast District mayor, Ross Church, is also opposed.

Submissions closed in February and a poll found that only a quarter of residents in the Greater Wellington region supported a proposed super city council.

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