Kāpiti residents want council closer to community

Kapiti currently has four Community Boards

Kāpiti Coast residents want their diverse communities represented on council, and more direct access to councillors who do what’s best for the district as a whole, according to research released today by Kāpiti Coast District Council ahead of public consultation on council representation.

The Council is carrying out a review of how its ratepayers and residents should be represented at the 2022 local body elections. Under the Local Electoral Act, all councils have to do this at least every six years. Councillors are due to put an initial proposal out for public consultation on 1 September.

Kāpiti District Mayor K Gurunathan says the purpose of the review is to look at whether the current arrangements such as numbers of councillors and the set-up of wards, community boards, and ward or district-wide councillors continue to provide fair and effective representation and meet the community’s needs and expectations.

“When we began preparing for this review in November last year, we wanted to give councillors a solid understanding of how our communities want to be represented on council.

“Our representation arrangements haven’t changed much in 20 years but Kāpiti, our communities and their needs and expectations have changed hugely. So has Council and the way we work.

“We started with a blank page and have taken a research-driven approach to understanding what our community wants of us – and there is a strong case for change,” Mayor Gurunathan says.

“This review is happening in the context of significant change in our sector. We’re being asked to be agile, to remove barriers, to better reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and to know and understand our communities better. We need to be innovative and courageous. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to act in the best interests of our district.”

Mr Gurunathan said the research highlighted many of the issues people raised with him and the other councillors about representation.

“Many believe it’s currently hard for councillors to hear from the diverse range of people in the district. Barriers that prevent people from putting their views forward include lack of time, energy, communication ability, transportation, self-confidence, and confidence in council to really listen and care. Many note that because barriers block engagement for some, council constantly only hears a subsection of voices and perspectives.”

Councillors have been considering the research findings and options for improving council representation in the district. They have been talking to community boards and others to help formulate an initial proposal which will be considered at the council meeting on 26 August. This will go out for public consultation from 1 September – 4 October.

Council will advertise the consultation through its usual channels. The community insights research report and more information about the representation review is available online at www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/representation-review.