Submission on the Proposed Changes to the Waitemata and Gulf Ward Boundaries

Auckland Council has been consulting on electoral boundaries and representation, which included Waitematā and Gulf Ward boundary changes. We submitted on this proposal…

You can view Auckland Council’s full proposals here:
https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/have-your-say/topics-you-can-have-your-say-on/consultation-on-electoral-boundaries-and-representation/Pages/Proposal-One-Ward-boundary-changes.aspx

Why change?

Auckland Council gave the following explanation for wanting to change the ward boundaries…

The ratio of people to elected member in a ward should not vary from the average across the whole of Auckland by more than 10 per cent. This is to ensure “fair and effective representation for individuals and communities”.

This means, for example, if a city had one million people living in it, split into 10 wards with an elected member each, each ward should have roughly 100,000 people living in it. That population is allowed to go as low as 90,000 or as high as 110,000.

If the population went above or below those guidelines, the council for that city would not comply with the Local Electoral Act 2001.

The only ways a council is allowed to be non-compliant is if altering a ward’s boundaries would split communities of interest, join together disparate communities, or if island or isolated communities are involved.

GLRA submission

Grey Lynn Residents Association made the following submission on behalf of the residents of Grey Lynn…

The Grey Lynn Residents Association strongly opposes the boundary changes that have been proposed for the western edge of Waitemata and Gulf Ward.

The current boundary of the Waitemata and Gulf Ward runs along Meola Creek through to the motorway and this forms a much more natural and logical western boundary for the ward than the proposed boundary. This western boundary of the Waitemata and Gulf Ward is also the Waitemata Local Board boundary and it makes good sense for these boundaries to be aligned.

We note that the Local Electoral Act 2001 does allow for the population within a ward to be out of step with the general pattern across the city, where moving the boundaries would result in communities of interest being split, and the joining together of disparate communities. We believe that altering the western boundary in the way proposed will result in communities of interest being split. The proposed boundary line runs directly through the western part of Grey Lynn splitting a community of interest. Places like Grey Lynn School and St Columba Church which are an integral part of the Grey Lynn community would no longer be with the rest of Grey Lynn. This division would also split the shopping centres at Surrey Crescent and West Lynn down the middle with shops on one side of the street being part of the Waitemata and Gulf Ward while their neighbours on the opposite side would be in the Albert-Eden-Roskill Ward. We cannot understand how this boundary can have been put forward as a logical dividing line when it so clearly splits one part of our community from the other. The Surrey Crescent and West Lynn shopping centres, Grey Lynn School, St Columba Church and the surrounding areas are all part of a cohesive community, so running a boundary line through and beside them seems completely nonsensical.

We also note that local board boundaries are supposed to align closely with the ward boundaries. At the moment the board and ward boundaries are aligned in our area. The proposed changes would result in a considerable misalignment of the boundaries of these two bodies resulting in some very confusing electoral arrangements. Someone living on the eastern side of Richmond Road would be able to vote for the Waitemata Local Board representatives and a Waitemata and Gulf Ward councillor, while their neighbours on the other side of the road could vote for Waitemata Local Board members and an Albert-Eden-Roskill Ward councillor. This will undoubtedly be confusing for members of our local community and will hinder their ability to engage with their local board and councillor on local matters. This will have particular relevance at the local shopping centres. Recently there was an issue at the local West Lynn shopping centre and members of the community contacted the Waitemata Local Board and Councillor Mike Lee for assistance. If the proposed boundary changes go ahead then any similar situation will see the local community having to engage with one councillor for issues on one side of the street, and another for issues on the other side. This would be a ridiculous situation that will hinder the ability of councillors and locals to work together to resolve local issues.

There are numerous sports clubs that serve the Grey Lynn area which are located just inside the western edge of the current Waitemata and Gulf Ward. The boundary changes would mean that these sporting groups would be removed from our ward becoming a distant part of the large Albert-Eden-Roskill Ward but still within the Waitemata Local Board area. This would be far from ideal for our community and these local sporting groups.

The proposed boundary changes include moving the boundary in from the eastern side of the ward, thus removing Parnell and Newmarket from the Waitemata and Gulf Ward and incorporating them within the Orakei Ward. The proposal also includes the removal of Eden Terrace from the Waitemata and Gulf Ward and its inclusion in the Albert-Eden-Roskill Ward. We support these boundary changes if it is considered necessary to decrease the population of the ward.

Another area which might sensibly join Parnell and Newmarket in their move from the Waitemata and Gulf Ward to the Orakei Ward is Grafton. The motorway gully from the Strand through Grafton gully forms a natural boundary, with the city on one side, and Parnell, Grafton and Newmarket on the other, so it seems logical to group these suburbs together in a move from Waitemata and Gulf Ward to Orakei Ward. We support moving the eastern boundary of the ward in this way if it is considered necessary to decrease the population of the ward.

However, we question why it is necessary to amend the ward boundaries at all. The reasoning put forward is that the proposed ward boundary changes will provide the provide the city with more equitable representation. In their calculations the Representation Review Joint Working Group has used census population figures for each ward, and the number of councillors that can be elected within those wards, to gauge the relative under or over representation for each ward. Through this formula the Waitemata and Gulf Ward was found to be very underrepresented. However, the formula used does not take into account the proportion of electors within the ward, something that is markedly different in our ward as compared with other Auckland wards. The Waitemata and Gulf Ward is unusual in that it has a relatively low proportion of electors per population with around 51% of its population enrolled to vote. Within the rest of Auckland the proportion of electors per population is markedly different with around 66% of the population enrolled to vote across the city. The relatively low proportion of electors in the Waitemata and Gulf Ward is probably because of the significant numbers of tourists, international students, temporary workers and other visitors that are counted as part of the population of the ward on census night. Most of these people will not be eligible to vote because they do not meet the necessary criteria to become electors. When these factors are taken into consideration, we believe that the Waitemata and Gulf Ward cannot be considered underrepresented and there seems to be no good reason for altering the western boundary of the ward in the name of equitable representation.

ENDS

Comments

  1. rex mcclenaghan says

    Have lived in Grey Lynn for 78 year and my family since 1910, it’s always been Grey Lynn central Auckland and not Eden Roskill … there has already been far to much division in West Lynn and Surrey Cres… certainly no more obstruction to the business worlds of these areas or the the residents who prefer the way it is!

  2. C and L Johnstone says

    We totally agree with the GRLA submission

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