Media release

ORC wants community input on proposed change to Councillor representation

Thursday 23 May 2024

The ORC has acknowledged the strength of population growth around Central Otago and is proposing to consult on shifting one Council seat from Dunedin to the Dunstan ward – which covers Central Otago environs.

The number of ORC Councillors is proposed to remain the same, at 12. Councillors voted 10-2 for Option one (of four options) yesterday.

Councils are required to conduct a representation review every six years under the Local Electoral Act.

Council yesterday received a report from staff and voted 10-2 to go out to the public in July with the proposal that the ward boundaries for the region remain the same but that the Dunedin ward would lose a Councillor and have 5 instead of 6 and the Dunstan ward would gain a Councillor and have 4 instead of the current 3.

ORC Chair Gretchen Robertson says, “We’re keen to hear what communities have to say about this proposed change and we’re not making up our minds until we hear what they say.”

Staff will bring the formal initial proposal back to Council at the end of June for notification, after which the community will be consulted on the structure of the region’s wards and number of councillors representing each ward from on July 10. Should changes be made, they won’t come into effect until the next local government election in October 2025.

What is a representation review?

Every six years councils must review how communities are represented in the make-up of their council. A representation review looks at the structures in place, including:

  • the number of constituencies (electoral areas) and their boundaries
  • the number of elected members (councillors) representing each constituency

The representation review cannot change the people who are currently elected but it may increase the number of councillors - 14 is the maximum number of councillors a regional council can have.

The last representation review for Otago Regional Council was completed in 2018. No changes were made to the existing constituencies or number of councillors.

Representation reviews require Council to look at three key concepts:

  • Communities of interest: to identify what communities of interest exist across the district, which is relevant to determining the number and boundaries of constituencies
  • Effective representation of communities of interest: to identify what’s the best structure to maintain access and representation that recognises these communities of interest, which is relevant to determining the number of members
  • Fair representation of electors: to ensure that each councillor should represent roughly the same number of people, which is relevant for ensuring equality of representation per member.

Current arrangement

The Otago Regional Council is made up of 12 Councillors, elected from four constituencies:

  • Dunstan                              3
  • Moeraki                              1
  • Molyneux                           2
  • Dunedin                             6


Proposed new arrangement

Status Quo constituencies with a reallocation of Councillors

The proposed new arrangement will:

Retain a total of 12 councillors.

Retain the current electoral boundaries with constituencies for Dunedin, Moeraki, Molyneux and Dunstan.

Redistribute a councillor from Dunedin to Dunstan to reflect large population growth in the Queenstown and Wānaka areas.

Retain the existing constituency names.

Next steps 

The initial proposal will be brought back to the June Council Meeting for notification by Council. From there, the formal consultation and submissions process will follow. Council will then receive a final proposal for adoption.

The indicative timeframe for these steps if the initial proposal is adopted on 26 June: 

  • By Wednesday 10 July (14 days after Council resolution), have given public notice #1 of initial proposal and invite submissions. 
  • By Wednesday 4 September (not less than one month), submission period closes.
    • If no submissions, proposal can be notified by Council as the final.
    • If there are submissions, a hearings process must be run and may recommend to Council that amendments are made. 
  • Final proposal to be adopted on Wednesday 25 September at Council Meeting. 
  • Public notice #2 of final proposal by Thursday 9 October. 


  • Appeals and objections period until Wednesday 6 November. 
    • If no appeals, then public notice #3 of final proposal to be given 
    • If appeals or objections are received, these are to be forwarded to the Local Government Commission for determination (decisions made by 11 April 2025).
    •  If final proposal is outside the +/- 10% rule, it also has to be sent to the Local Government Commission