A Word from Jim Boult, Queenstown Lakes District Mayor

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Democracy at work in altered recommendations

We are extremely fortunate in this part of the world to enjoy the freedoms and rights to participation available to us through the democratic process.

Recent world events highlight how this is just not the case for all people.

However, we have seen democracy at work in the Upper Clutha more than usual of late.

Local government is often complex and there are many considerations at play.

Community participation is vital because it creates those shared interests, common goals and a set course of community action which gives a mandate to elected representatives.

Queenstown Lakes district councillors will this week consider adopting a final representation review proposal following completion of community consultation and two public hearings.

To me the proposal is significant, because it has changed markedly from the initial recommendations of an independent advisory group formed to advise on the matter.

What I see is a clear example of local democracy at work.

For example, one of the initial recommendations of the advisory group was to disestablish the Wanaka Community Board, based on a rationale agreed by the majority of its members.

The council then agreed to put this recommendation forward for community consultation but, with two-thirds of the 300 or so submitters asking to retain the board, the hearings panel listened and now recommends the board is retained.

Conversely, the council agreed to consult on a proposal to retain the existing Arrowtown ward, which was again different from the advisory group’s initial recommendation.

The hearings panel subsequently altered that position in the final proposal.

The recommendation is now for Arrowtown to form part of an enlarged Arrowtown-Kawarau ward, to better reflect changes in the district’s population over recent years.

What this demonstrates is how important the voices of our community are.

They directly affect decision making and the shape of representation for our communities into the future.

To that end, I would like thank those who took the time to make their opinions heard.