Labour: NZ wants more local govt

  • 16/09/2015
Local Government Minister Paula Bennett (Simon Wong/3 News)
Local Government Minister Paula Bennett (Simon Wong/3 News)

Overwhelming opposition to a Hawke's Bay council merger shows New Zealanders want more local government, Labour says.

Voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to amalgamate five of the region's councils.

The plan by the Local Government Commission to merge the Napier City, Wairoa District, Hastings District, Central Hawke's Bay District and Hawke's Bay Regional councils was rejected by about two-thirds of voters.

Labour's local government spokesman Su'a William Sio said the result showed New Zealanders wanted more local government.

"The Hawkes Bay community are to be congratulated for their determination to keep their independence and resist the future ramifications a super-city structure would impose on its residents," he said.

"This decision affirms that New Zealanders want more democracy not less."

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett said it was important for voters to make decisions about their own governance, but called for the region to now come together to promote growth.

"No matter what the structure is, New Zealanders expectations of local government are quite clear," she said.

"They want their local leaders to focus on promoting strong regional growth, spending ratepayers money wisely, and provide outstanding customer service."

The Local Government Commission in June said the merger would bring cost-savings to the region but rejected similar suggestions for Wellington and Northland because of lack of public support.

The mayors of Napier, Central Hawke's Bay and Wairoa opposed the merger, while Hastings District Mayor Lawrence Yule was a major supporter.

The amalgamation was put to a poll after a petition called for the matter to be voted on by the public.