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A working group that proposes to replace Northland’s four councils with two unitary authorities will present its case for improved local government in the Far North to community leaders next month.
The Far North District Council and Taitokerau Iwi Leaders Forum formed a working group in April to develop a unitary authority initiative that responds to ‘Better Local Government Reforms’ proposed by the government and also advances Maori representation.
The Better Local Government in the Far North Working Group is co-chaired by Far North Mayor Wayne Brown and Rangitane Marsden (Te Hiku).
Group members are Sonny Tau, George Riley and Fred Sadler (Te Runanga A Iwi O Ngapuhi), Pita Tipene (Te Runanga o Ngati Hine) and David Edmunds and Tracy Dalton (Far North District Council).
Mr Marsden says the group has identified 10 key reasons why people in the Far North would be better-served by a Far North unitary authority rather than a district and regional council.
The group will outline its case to the Iwi Leaders Forum, Far North District Councillors and community board members on July 26 before consulting with iwi and community groups.
“We need to build community understanding about what we are trying to achieve here, but we also want to hear any concerns people may have about the proposal,” says Mr Marsden.
It will invite community groups to provide feedback on its proposal in August and September.
Groups interested in hosting a meeting should email the Mayor’s executive assistant Lau’rell Pratt at Laurell.Pratt@fndc.govt.nz or phone her on 0800 920 029.
“It’s important that our communities don’t squander the opportunity to participate in supporting a unitary authority proposal that will benefit our Northland Taitokerau communities,” says Mr Marsden.
The group will finalise and submit its proposal to the Local Government Commission in October.
“The Commission has to be satisfied that the proposal has significant community support, so we will be inviting iwi, community groups and individuals to provide letters of support for our application.”
The Commission will assess the proposal against statutory criteria before deciding whether to reject it, return it to the group for further work or develop it for public consultation.
“The Government has indicated it is receptive to changes that results in better local government outcomes for our communities and ratepayers.
“We believe that this unitary authority proposal will deliver that.”