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The Representation Review Process

Introduction

Every three years elections are held for local authorities. This includes mayors, councillors, community board members and local board members. These are the triennial elections.

Local authorities are required to review their representation arrangements at least once every six years. As part of the representation review a local authority can take a fresh look at the structure of its membership and the way they are elected. This could affect the total number of members, whether they come from a ward or ‘at large’ across the wider district, the boundaries of wards and constituencies, or the names of wards and constituencies.

A representation review must be publicly notified by the council no later than 31 August in the year before an election.

Any member of the public can make a written submission on a proposed representation review. The council considers all submissions and may change its proposals as a result. If a person who made a submission is not satisfied with the council’s amended proposal they can appeal against it.

If a council receives any objection it must refer the whole representation review to the Local Government Commission. It must do this no later than 15 January in the year of the election.

The Commission has a quasi-judicial role to determine the best representation arrangements for that local authority. It takes into account the original council decisions, the submissions, appeals and objections. It must issue its decision no later than 11 April of the election year.

A Commission decision can be appealed to the High Court on a point of law.

Note: A separate process is followed if a local authority wants to change its electoral system, e.g. first past the post or single transferable vote; or if it wants to establish Maori wards. These matters can not be appealed to the Commission. The electoral arrangements for licensing trusts and district health boards are also not within the scope of the Local Government Commission.

 Diagram showing the timeline for the Representation Review process