MAYOR Meng Foon has labelled the rules for determining local body and central government constituencies as “depressing” after confirmation of the East Coast electorate boundaries for 2014 and 2017 by the Electoral Commission.
The East Coast boundaries are essentially unchanged from the draft boundaries released by the Representation Commission several month ago — with the southern boundary coming back closer to Gisborne with the loss of Muriwai and the west extending to Kawerau and a coastal belt around Maketu in the Bay of Plenty.
The new boundaries will be used for the 2014 and 2017 general elections.
“Rural and small provincial towns don’t matter any more,” said Mr Foon. “The boundaries are a slippery slope for rural representation.”
List MP Moana Mackey said the draft boundaries for the south of the electorate were not practical and it was unfortunate they had not been rectified in the final boundary changes.
“Patutahi and Manutuke remain in the East Coast electorate but Ngatapa and Muriwai are now in the Napier seat,” she said.
“Even more bizarrely Motu remains in East Coast but Matawai is shifted into the Napier electorate.
Ms Mackey said the Napier MP would have to drive through Gisborne to get to that part of their electorate.
“It would have been far more sensible for Matawai to remain in East Coast as we have to travel through Matawai on a regular basis to get to the Bay of Plenty.
“I suspect that in practice these communities will continue to be serviced by the East Coast electorate. It’s a shame the boundaries don’t reflect that reality.”
Submissions made to the Representation Commission for the return of Wairoa to the electorate went unheeded.
Mr Foon said the law regarding how central government and local body election boundaries were determined needed to be changed.
Gisborne District Council used to have six rural councillors. It now had four.
“The law needs to change to retain the rural voice. After all, most of the country’s GDP is reliant on the agriculture, horticulture, forestry and viticulture sector,” said Mr Foon.
East Coast MP and Minister of Police Anne Tolley, who has held the seat since 2005, said she was sorry to lose “the southern hill country” and the Matawai and Otoko areas.
She had built up some great community relationships in those areas over the years.
“My Gisborne office will always be open to anyone who needs help or advice,” she said.
“I’ll also work closely with the National representative in Napier to ensure good service continues.”
There is one minor change in Ikaroa-Rawhiti, with the electorate losing Tuai, which moves into Waiariki.
There are now 64 general electorates, including one new Auckland electorate. the South Island has been fixed at 16 seats.
The number of Maori electorates remains at seven.
There is a North Island population quota of 61,834 to ensure each electorate is approximately of the same size.
Electorates are allowed to be 5 percent (2986) above or below the quota.
East Coast has a population of 61,834, which is 2103 or 3.5 percent above the quota.
The Electoral Commission said it expected East Coast’s population to decrease by 4 percent by 2017.
The Representation Commission is due to reconvene in 2018 after the next scheduled Census and Maori electoral option to review and re-draw electorate boundaries for the 2020 and 2023 general elections.
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