Equal votes for the proposed Auckland Council?

I’ve been looking more closely at the proposed representation for the 23 strong Council and there are some issues.

At the parliamentary level, all electorates are meant to be the same size, within a 5% tolerance.

At local body level, the number of residents per Councillor is meant to be realtively equal, so that those in one neighbourhood do not get less or more say than those in another. There is some flexibility as small distinct communities (like Hauraki Gulf Islands) can’t be given just 0.4 of a Councillor, but the current Auckland City Council wards are:

  • Avondale-Roskill Ward – 90,459/4 = 22,615
  • Eastern Bays Ward – 45,798/2 = 22,899
  • Eden-Albert Ward – 59,454/3 = 19,818
  • Hauraki Gulf Islands Ward – 8,637/1 = 8,637
  • Hobson Ward – 74,388/3 = 24,796
  • Tamaki-Maungakiekie Ward – 88,218/4 = 22,055
  • Western Bays Ward – 37,704/2 = 18,852

So with the exception of Hauraki Gulf, the residents per Councillor range from 18,852 to 24,796. About as equal as you can get them, without having ward boundaries significantly change.

Now what are the proposed local Councils for the new Auckland Council:

  • Rodney 54,000/1 = 54,000
  • Waitemata 261,000/2 = 130,500
  • Waitakere 198,000/2 = 99,000
  • Tamaki-makau-rau 397,000/2 = 198,500
  • Manukau 387,000/2 = 193,500
  • Hunua 72,000/1 = 72,000

This is massively out of kilter. The local Council boundaries are unsuitable to also be the ward boundaries. So either one has to change the local Council boundaries, or have City wards which do not correspond to the local Council boundaries. Now the RC has not said that the local Councils must be the ward boundaries but they have said four urban wards and two rural wards, and we happen to have four urban local Councils proposed and two rural ones.

But even more out of kilter is the proposal for there to be 3/23 seats reserved for Maori – two elected by voters on the Maori electoral roll, and one appointed by mana whenua. But many Maori do not go on the Maori roll – only about 60% do.

Now population of Auckland is around 1.37 million. 11% of that is Maori which is 0.15 million. However say 40% are on general roll and 60% on Maori roll. So 0.09 million on Maori roll and 1.28 million on general roll.

Three Maori Councillors for 90,000 persons on Maori roll is one per 30,000. Ten Ward Councillors for those on general roll of 1.28 million is one per 128,000.

So even if you accept there should be Council seats reserved for those on the Maori roll and/or mana whenua, the Royal Commission proposal gives four times the voting strength by allocating three seats. The correct number, it seems to me is one seat.

Some may say 3/23 is 13% and that is close to the Maori population of 11% of Auckland. But that overlooks that those on Maori roll also get to vote for the ten at large seats. The correct comparison is population on Maori roll vs population on the general roll in the wards.

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