With most of the councillor seats at the Dunedin City
Council coming from the large central ward, community boards
are more important than ever, a Dunedin academic says.
And people should not wish for a city-wide ward, or the voice
of Dunedin's diverse set of communities could be lost at
University of Otago political studies lecturer Associate Prof
Janine Hayward said if residents of wider Dunedin wanted
someone representing their views to council, they needed to,
where possible, vote for their community boards.
This year, more Dunedin community board members are retiring
from local body politics than at each of the past three
Thirteen incumbents stood down pre-election, including
long-serving members Jan Tucker, who served on the Chalmers
Community Board for 15 years, John Bellamy and Bill Allen,
who both served 11 years on the Otago Peninsula Community
Board, and Ernie Ball, who served 12 years with the Saddle
Hill Community Board.
West Harbour residents this year have a real chance to
influence how they are represented to council, as the biggest
contest for a seat at a board table in a decade plays out,
with 12 people standing for the six places on the Chalmers
Prof Hayward said that was good news.
It was ''really important'' for people to vote so they were
confident the people who represented them were also going to
do a good job of representing their communities to council.
''I hope the fact that there are more people standing at
Chalmers than ever before also reflects the fact people are
beginning to see that and value the role that those
representatives have to play.''
The point of community boards was to balance the power of
council against the interest of its various communities, she
This year, three of the city's six community boards have been
elected unopposed, although that still means four new faces
around the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board table, two new
members on the Waikouaiti Coast board and one on the Strath
There has been consternation from members of the public
outside the central ward that they cannot vote for the ward
where the majority of councillors come from.
Those upset about not being able to vote for more councillors
should be careful, Prof Hayward warned.
It was unfortunate that having a large central ward with just
a few people elected outside of it seemed to have created ''a
bit of us and them'', she said.
That detracted from the fact that the value of retaining the
city's two other small wards was that the people who lived
there could absolutely guarantee that the person they had
elected was supposed to represent them.
The danger in people wanting to be part of the central ward
was that 14 people who lived next door to each other in one
part of the community could be elected.
''And then what will those from the very small boards be
saying about that?''
''I really hope they can appreciate that actually if they can
get good representation for themselves, that's a far more
valuable thing to take to the council table.''