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Published: 2005-09-01 00:00:00

Environment Waikato today voted unanimously to stick with the First-Past-the-Post voting system (FPP), rather than switch to Single Transferrable Vote (STV).

“Environment Waikato is quite happy with First-Past-the-Post, as we believe it serves our constituents well,” says Environment Waikato chair, Jenni Vernon.

“Basically, our attitude is that if it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it.”

Mrs Vernon says that each council needs to make its own decisions on the FPP/STV issue, depending on its local conditions – and Environment Waikato’s decision to stick with FPP should not be regarded as a reflection on any other council’s decision.

“For us as a regional council, we cover a very wide geographical area, and FPP gives good local representation over a wide catchment area,” she says.

“With STV, there is a potential for the large population centres to gain an overwhelming proportion of the representation. Yet for us as a regional council, we need to hear from local representatives on the ground across the whole region – which is why we prefer FPP.”

Mrs Vernon says that while Environment Waikato had opted to retain the FPP system, a public petition of 5 per cent of the electorate (12,737 electors) would require a poll on the issue.

On the issue of Maori representation, Environment Waikato decided to retain the status quo, and not to proceed with the creation of Maori constituencies (or wards).

However, Environment Waikato agreed to invite iwi to consider the establishment of a Maori Standing Committee, which would be able to facilitate iwi participation in the development of relevant policy.

On the issue of reviewing Environment Waikato’s existing constitutional representation (“ward system”), it was decided to delay making a decision until after seeing the makeup of local councils within the region. This decision does not need to be made until November 23, 2005.