No changes planned for Kaikōura council elections after review

No changes are planned for how councillors are elected in Kaikōura. Photo: David Hill / North...
No changes are planned for how councillors are elected in Kaikōura. Photo: David Hill / North Canterbury News
Electing a small council at large is "the only viable option", says Kaikōura District Council chief executive Will Doughty.

Following its representation review, the council has opted to stick with the status quo of electing a mayor and seven councillors at large for the 2025 and 2028 local government elections.

"We’re not looking at instigating any geographical wards,’’ Mr Doughty said.

"There aren’t too many options for a small district like ours.

"It is one of the strengths of a small district or small communities that everyone is elected at large.’’

There was some dissatisfaction to the north of the district, with some residents in the Clarence Valley and Kekerengu expressing a preference to be part of the Marlborough district, Mr Doughty said.

"We had some good discussions during the Long Term Plan consultation when we went up there (Clarence and Kekerengu).

"We have just got to continue having those discussions and take on board those concerns.’’

In a report to a recent council meeting, corporate services senior manager Peter Kearney said a ward system would be ‘‘unworkable’’ because of the small population.

"The council’s view is that a common community of interest exists at the district level.

"Sub-dividing the district into wards would not be a practicable option and would risk fragmentation of the district’s character and shared community of interest.’’

The Kaikōura district’s population was 4230, as at June last year, making it the second smallest in New Zealand, behind the Chatham Islands.

In addition to the permanent population, there were a growing number of holiday homes.

The council voted against establishing a Māori ward in October, after consulting with Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura.

Kaikōura has enjoyed one of the highest voter turnouts, with more than 62% voting in both the 2019 and 2022 local government elections.

Residents have until August 12 to make submissions on the proposal to retain the existing representation arrangements.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.