by Colin Guyton, President Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo
Federated Farmers, along with many others in rural Rotorua, have pushed hard yet again for rural representation to be at the Rotorua Lakes Council table, being part of decision making and bringing our unique perspective to the outcomes. Sadly following the 2022 Representation Review arrangements, it is clear our voice is not wanted – it seems Council just wants our money.
Keeping in mind that rural communities make up around 30% of the rate take, they simply could not do without us financially.
Let me tell you, it is not much fun being a minority – all we are asking for is one seat in the council chamber, and our voices heard.
The Rotorua Lakes Council put forward an arrangement, following a split decision vote, for one Māori ward with one seat, one General ward with one seat, eight from an at-large ward, and the Mayor at large. This is an arrangement that was never put forward or suggested by anyone. So where did the council dream this regime up?
We have no idea.
Federated Farmers alongside many other submitters feel that Council hasn’t consulted or listened to what the communities want. This stood out like dog’s balls during the hearings with the Local Government Commission. Council had the arrogance to utilise ratepayers’ funds to turn up with a lawyer.
Federated Farmers Policy Advisor Shaun Hazelton commented to me that never had he seen other councils arrive with a lawyer to fight the communities speaking at the commission’s hearing. This is a wasteful use of ratepayers’ money for a decision made for the people. When the local council’s name changed to Rotorua Lakes Council it seems that rural literally got left behind.
Aside from that and on a positive note, we believe that the Commission haa heard and respected the multitude of complex issues facing the rural community. We are hoping that this hard work is not all in vain.
I think the solution is simple, stick with democracy – it’s not the perfect option, but it is the fairest.