Colmar Brunton Results: Mayors Seek Referendum

10 August 2012

A number of Wellington's Mayors believe the debate over regional local-government reform is quickly distilling down to two possible options - an enhanced shared services model with no change in council boundaries - or significant amalgamation.

And they are pushing for a region-wide referendum to allow local people to have their say - and to give councils and the government a clear indication of the region's wishes.

Mayors have now received the Colmar Brunton results and it appears, given the wide divergence of views across the region, a clear choice of two options have to be put to the public.

Results from the Colmar Brunton phone survey of 3,300 residents across the region show that:

  • A strong majority of 58% of all respondents want no changes to current local council boundaries
  • 32% do want changed boundaries in some form
  • 10% are undecided
  • Less than 10% of residents in the Wairarapa want to be part of a region-wide 'super city', but there is strong support for an amalgamated Wairarapa council

The survey results show that of those who support some kind of boundary change, most want three separate councils (option 2):

  • one to cover Wellington, Porirua and, possibly, Kāpiti Coast
  • the second to cover a unified Hutt Valley
  • the third, an amalgamated Wairarapa.

The exception to this trend was among Wellington city and Kāpiti respondents.  In Wellington, the biggest preference was for two large councils - one serving the whole Wellington metropolitan area (Wellington, Porirua, Hutt City, Upper Hutt and, possibly, the Kāpiti Coast), the other covering a unified Wairarapa. In Kāpiti, the 'three councils' option and the full amalgamation of all councils shared first-equal preference for change.

Wellington Mayor Wade-Brown says the Mayors and councils will work together over the next month to propose two options that acknowledge views across the region.

"My personal preference is for two options to be developed and put to the people of Wellington. One would be an enhanced shared services model, with existing boundaries on the west side of the Rimutaka range, and a united Wairarapa council.

"I would also like to investigate an option that looks at one or two larger councils on this side of the Rimutaka range. This option would need to be developed to take into account the issues raised in both submissions and the Colmar Brunton survey.

"We will work on a possible and practical change option over the next few weeks so residents across the region can decide between two clear options."

Regional Mayoral Forum Chair and Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy says a referendum on two options would acknowledge that there is strong support for the status quo in parts of the region - especially the Hutt Valley.

"However we also recognise that there is a mood for change amongst part of our community - and those people also deserve the opportunity to vote on an option consistent with their views," says Mayor Guppy.

Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace also supports the referendum. Mayor Wallace says it will "acknowledge the strong desire of many people in the region to retain local representation".

The Colmar Brunton survey was jointly funded by the Hutt, Upper Hutt, Wellington and Porirua city councils, and the Kāpiti Coast, Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils.

For the Colmar Brunton survey, respondents were asked if they wanted existing local government arrangements to stay the same or change.  Those that wanted to see changes chose from the following four options (or made up their own):

Option 1 - all existing councils remain the same - but share more services and work more closely together. 

Option 2 - merge the nine existing councils into three bigger councils:

  • Wellington Capital and Coast Council - combining Wellington City, Porirua City and, possibly, Kāpiti Coast District
  • Hutt Valley Council - combining Hutt and Upper Hutt cities
  • Wairarapa Council - combining the three councils in the Wairarapa.

Greater Wellington Regional Council would be abolished.

Option 3 - merge all existing councils into two big councils:

  • Wellington Council - combining Wellington City, Porirua, Hutt and Upper Hutt cities and, possibly, Kāpiti Coast District
  • Wairarapa Council - combining the three councils in the Wairarapa.

Again, the regional council would be abolished.    

Option 4 - merge all existing councils into one council for the whole region, with 10 local boards elected to look after 'local' services.

Colmar Brunton Survey - Headline Results (43Kb PDF) l Text version (5Kb RTF)