Christchurch boundaries

The Press reports:

East could be heading west.

The expected redrawing of Christchurch’s electorate may be the catalyst for further political shakeup in the region after big upsets at the 2011 general election.

In a big turnaround, Labour was rolled in the previously safe Christchurch Central and Waimakariri seats and suffered a dip in its party vote across the city.

Census data collected in March will form the basis for the new-look electorates after the earthquakes triggered significant population shifts from eastern and central Christchurch.

The is expected to release draft boundary changes in November, which should be finalised in April next year after consultation.

All electorates must have about the same population and South Island electorates are fixed at 16.

Christchurch East – the hardest hit by Government red-zoning – could grow to the west and claim chunks of neighbouring Christchurch Central to boost voter numbers.

The changes in Christchurch are likely to be significant, but are quite hard to predict. Before you even look at Christchurch, you have to look at what happens outside Christchurch.

The Representation Commission starts down South, in Invercargill. In previous years the population growth in Invercargill is less than  in the South Island as a whole. This means the electorate has too few people in it and has to grow in size to be within 5% of the average population. That means its boundaries move North. This means Clutha-Southland loses territory to Invercargill, plus is normally under quota itself, so its boundaries move North also – by an even larger amount.

But it is possibly that the depopulation in Christchurch may mean that this time those seats are not under quota. So until we know that, we don’t even know what will happen to the seats outside Christchurch. If it does follow previous occasions, then each rural electorate will move North, and Selwyn will take in more territory on the outskirts of Christchurch. Once you have done that, then you look at how Christchurch City electorates get divided up.

Dalziel said her electorate could have lost up to 10,000 voters.

A move west into central was the obvious change, while heading north to include Kaiapoi and Pegasus was a possibility but less likely because the Waimakariri district was not Christchurch.

Bromley – a former East electorate suburb – could be reclaimed from Port Hills, as well as Linwood and Richmond from Central.

There will be a lot of interest in the outcome.

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