A proposal for less bureaucratic and more cost-effective local government in the Far North has been lodged with the Local Government Commission by the district council and Iwi leaders.
Far North District Councillors voted last month to seek unitary authority status for the council after endorsing a reorganisation application and business case.
Their decision followed public meetings in August and September between community groups and the Better Local Government in the Far North Working Group, which comprises council and Te Taitokerau Iwi Leaders Forum representatives.
Working group members Mayor Wayne Brown (chair), Te Taitokerau Iwi Leaders representative Rangitane Marsden (co-chair), Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi chief executive George Reilly, Te Runanga o Ngati Hine representative Pita Tipene and council chief executive David Edmunds presented the group’s application to the commission yesterday.
They were supported by Far North District Councillor Di Maxwell and Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira.
The 55-page application calls for the replacement of Northland’s four councils with two unitary authorities, but also proposes a cost-effective Far North Unitary Authority that doesn’t rely on a second unitary authority being formed in Northland.
The application includes letters of support from numerous groups, individuals and business leaders including:
Mr Brown says he is proud to lead the first council in New Zealand to lodge an application under new reorganisation provisions aimed at providing more efficient local government.
“The proposed Far North unitary structure will reduce bureaucracy and costs and help our council focus on delivering effective and affordable local solutions to our communities.”
He notes that the Northland Regional Council has now decided to consult Northlanders to find out what their preferred local government model for the region is.
“They’re talking about spending up to $100,000 of ratepayer money on a consultation exercise, even though the Local Government Commission will invite communities to suggest alternatives to our proposal.”
Mr Marsden says the council’s willingness to form a strategic alliance with Iwi/Maori by creating Maori wards shows a boldness that is lacking at other councils.
“This sets Northland on the road to becoming a ‘template example’ for better local governance where Iwi and council work together to fulfil the aspirations of Far North people.”
The commission will assess the proposal and decide whether it has community backing before publicly notifying it and inviting alternative reorganisation applications from the community.
It will then decide on its preferred option for local government in the Far North, which could include making no changes to the current structure.
The public will be able to make formal submissions on any reorganisation proposal the commission proposes.