Varied responses to call for own council

Some Wanaka residents are speaking out about the increasingly pricey town amid an influx of...
A petition proposing a new and separate council for Wanaka has had a mixed response from the town’s politicians.

Wanaka resident Dean Rankin, a self-employed mechanic, said he started the online petition because he was ‘‘fed up’’ with the way the Queenstown Lakes District council was governing Wanaka.

So far the petition has been signed by more than 1200 people, which is close to the 1500 signatures needed to trigger an investigation and review of the district’s representation by the Local Government Commission .

Deputy mayor Calum MacLeod thanked Mr Rankin for raising the suggestion but said ultimately he would be guided by the community.

‘‘I do feel generally there is strength in numbers, and we will always have a stronger voice nationally as a larger group.

‘‘It is also worth noting that there were quite a few submissions in the latest review suggesting Hawea, and even Hawea Flat, needed separate representation.

‘‘How small do we go?’’ Cr MacLeod said.

Wanaka ward councillor Niamh Shaw said she thought it was essential the Upper Clutha had better representation, ‘‘whatever form that takes’’.

She said as a resident she would like to understand more about the practical implications of the proposal.

Wanaka Community Board chairman Barry Bruce said he believed any discussion about a new council for Wanaka was ‘‘premature and inappropriate’’ as central government was conducting a review of local government with early findings expected in October.

Wanaka Stakeholders Group chairman Michael Ross said the group’s primary purpose had been to challenge the council on process regarding the Wanaka Airport lease but it would be advising its membership of the petition.

Members would be informed of the petition but ‘‘they were to make up their own minds as to whether or not they support this initiative’’, he said.

Council spokesman Sam White said Mayor Jim Boult and chief executive Mike Theelen had noted the petition and would not be commenting further at this stage.

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