Voting papers and information packs for the forthcoming, binding poll on the introduction of Māori Wards in the Whakatāne District will be posted to all registered electors on Friday, April 27.
Voting will be open through until midday on May 19. Voting papers can be returned by post, using the prepaid envelope provided, or placed in the envelope and dropped into the voting boxes provided at the Whakatāne District Council Civic Centre in Whakatāne, or the Murupara Service Centre. Anyone returning their vote by post is advised to get it in the mail by Wednesday 16 May, at the latest, to ensure that it is received by the Electoral Officer before the voting period ends. Votes delivered to the Murupara Service Centre will need to be placed in the voting box before 4.30pm on Friday, May 18. Votes can be lodged at the Civic Centre through until midday on Saturday May 19.
Preliminary results should be available later that day and the Electoral Officer will provide an official declaration of the outcome on May 21.
If a majority of the people voting in the poll vote against Māori wards, the proposal will lapse. If a majority vote in favour of Māori wards, the Council will undertake a representation review, to define how the District wards system should work. The proposed representation arrangements would then go through a community consultation process before a final decision is made. Any objections to that decision would then be referred to the Local Government Commission for a ruling.
Electoral Officer Dale Ofsoske says approximately 24,500 registered voters are eligible to take part in the poll. “This is an important decision for the Whakatāne District, because it will determine how the community is represented for at least the next two elections,” he says. “All registered voters are therefore encouraged to have their say by completing and returning their voting papers during the voting period.”