Electoral boundary changes announced

A new Upper Harbour electorate has been confirmed for Auckland, as well as other major boundary changes in both Auckland and Christchurch.

The representation commission has released its final boundary changes after hearing objections to its draft proposals, saying 387,000 voters will now be in a different electorate.

Bernard Kendall, the chair of the Representation Commission, said it would bring the number of Auckland electorates to 24. As well as the new Upper Harbour electorate, the current Waitakere seat will be removed and a Kelston seat established.

Finalising the changes will mean parties can now go ahead with selecting candidates for the seats. Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has been among those waiting before deciding which electorate to stand in and National will have to decide whether to give him a helping hand to win an electorate seat.

The Upper Harbour seat, which is safe National territory on paper, would be the most likely but National's Paula Bennett has already said she hopes to stand in it and has the sanction of both Prime Minister John Key and the party President Peter Goodfellow.

In feedback to the commission on its draft proposal, the most controversial issue was a proposed boundary changes between Mt Roskill, a safe Labour seat, and the Epsom electorate, currently held by Act MP John Banks. Many had argued that the areas around Greenwoods Corner and Selwyn Ave should remain in the Epsom electorate - an argument the commission agreed with.

The decision to get rid of the Waitakere electorate and put the Waitakere Ranges and West Coast beach communities in the Helensville electorate was also controversial - many were concerned about the loss of the 'Waitakere' name and community identity if the West Coast beach townships were included in the Helensville electorate.

However, the Commission said it was unable to achieve that without a significant redraw of all other west Auckland electorates.

Other changes to which there were a significant number of objections was over Grey Lynn. There was concern that that the draft boundaries split Grey Lynn between Auckland Central and Mt Albert and break up a community of interest. The Electoral Commission altered its plans to keep the suburb together, but put it in Mt Albert rather than Auckland Central as at present.

Mr Kendall said there were also significant changes in Christchurch, because of the population shift out of the Christchurch East, Christchurch Central and Port Hills electorates. The changes will mean that the red zone will be in Christchurch East, rather than Christchurch Central. Christchurch Central has taken in some of the current Waimakariri and Port Hills electorates.

In Wellington, the most significant changes was the shift of the Wadestown suburb from the Wellington Central electorate, held by Labour, into Peter Dunne's Ohariu electorate. Hutt South will also lose the Naenae suburb to the Rimutaka electorate but pick up the Western Hills. Both Hutt South and Rimutaka are safe Labour electorates.

Twenty general electorates will remain unchanged. The only change to the seven Maori electorates is a minor shift between Waiariki and Ikaroa-Rawhiti, affected about 120 voters.

Go to www.elections.org.nz to see what has happened in your electorate.

- By Claire Trevett of the NZ Herald

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