There is deep dissatisfaction among some residents within the Whakatane District. Disgruntled residents from the Rangitaiki Ward, which includes the towns of Edgecumbe, Matata, Te Teko and Awakeri, have renewed calls to cut ties with the Whakatane District Council (WDC) and move under the governance of the nearby Kawerau District Council. You can read some background here. I’m interested in the issue because I think it demonstrates the perennial problem peripheral wards face.
Peripheral wards are often neglected by major interests in the centre of the district and there is almost always conflict between the interests of rural residents and the interests of urban residents. Under the ward voting system residents only have a set number of representatives who are electorally accountable to them so inevitably those residents residing in the urban centre have substantially more representatives as a result of the ward system compared to those in the less populous rural wards. Therefore, the urban representatives rule Council by majority. The interests of urban electors are at the forefront of the Council agenda at the expense of the less powerful rural electors. The ward system also tends to produce voting blocs so when the urban bloc enforces policy that is detrimental to or ignores rural constituencies they do so without fear of electoral consequence. Essentially they act with impunity as they are only accountable to their ward as opposed to the entire electorate.
I hope the residents of the Rangitaiki ward are successful in their attempts to break away from the WDC. The WDC is a joke. Run by incompetent, narrow minded, uninspired small town hicks with atmospheric notions of self importance. The Rangitaiki ward is the WDC cash cow so they will pay a very heavy price for the neglect they have shown the ward.