Edendale, one of the areas to be effected by the Southlad
ward restructuring. Photo supplied.
The Southland District Council has signed off its biggest
structural change since it was established 23 years ago.
The number of wards has been more than halved and four
community boards rearranged or abolished following a
The final proposal was formally notified last weekend. If
there are no appeals lodged by the December 12 deadline, the
new structure will be the basis on which councillors and
community board members are elected at next year's local body
Council policy and planning manager Susan Cuthbert said last
week the reduction in the number of wards was the biggest
change since the council was formed in 1989.
The move to larger wards meant voters could no longer be
guaranteed the councillor they favoured would be from their
immediate area, she said.
Multiple councillors would be elected in all wards bar one,
but there was no guarantee the successful candidates would
represent a complete geographic spread across the council's
area, which stretches from above Milford Sound in the north
to Stewart Island in the south and takes in all of Southland
apart from the Fiordland National Park and the urban centres
of Invercargill and Gore.
The council received 46 submissions, many opposing the
change, but change was necessary, Ms Cuthbert said.
Under the Local Electorate Act 2001, councils had to ensure
each councillor represented about the same number of voters,
plus or minus 10%. The exception was very remote or island
Southland's ward structure needed to change because the
population of the district was not evenly spread, Ms Cuthbert
"The council considered the pros and cons of several options
and decided this one was the best of a bad bunch."
Under the new structure, 11 councillors will represent
between about 2300 and 2700 people each, while one councillor
will represent the 396 people living on Stewart Island.
There will be eight community boards and 19 community
development area subcommittees, each of which Ms Cuthbert
said had direct access to council staff and the power to set
their own spending priorities and targeted rates.
Southland District Council representational changes:
• Council to retain current structure of 12 councillors plus
• Number of wards cut from 12 to five
• Wyndham and Edendale community boards amalgamated into one
• Lumsden, Riversdale and Balfour community boards to be
abolished and reconstituted as community development area