Candidates not fazed by electorate split
SOUTH Canterbury voters are split and that’s before they even decide who to vote for.
The region has been carved up into two new electorates — Rangitata and Waitaki.
It has split South Canterbury through the middle, lumping Timaru in with Ashburton and a large proportion of the rural district surrounding the city in with Otago.
The close towns of Geraldine and Orari could both vote for the Labour electorate candidate but be voting for two different people now that they fall into different electorates. Orari sits in the Rangitata electorate while Geraldine only several kilometres away is now part of the Waitaki electorate.
Which MP would a Beaconsfield resident who lives in the Waitaki electorate but works in Timaru which is in the Rangitata electorate visit? People can be forgiven for feeling confused.
Labour’s Rangitata candidate Julian Blanchard said he wouldn’t turn away someone from the Waitaki electorate and would pass on the information to the Waitaki MP. ‘‘If people want to see their local MP a line on a map is not going to make a difference.’’
Aoraki MP Jo Goodhew said it’s appropriate for the constituent’s own MP to represent them if contact is made with a Minister or a government department.
‘‘However, neighbouring MPs like Jacqui Dean and myself often have a close working relationship. Jacqui and I and our respective electorate agents do work closely, and it would be fair to say that some issues are across electorate boundaries anyway.’’
For the people of Geraldine or Otipua it’s likely there MP will be at least a two hour drive away.
The main battle for the Waitaki seat is between the Oamaru-based incumbent MP Jacqui Dean and Labour’s David Parker who will retain his base in Dunedin if he wins the seat.
The new boundaries prompted anger among some residents south of Timaru who feel they are now estranged from their community of interest and attached to large sprawling electorates which bear no resemblance to their own.
The Representation Commission received 22 objections on the new Waitaki electorate.
Timaru mayor Janie Annear, South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce and the South Canterbury branch of the National Council of New Zealand Woman all said altering the existing Aoraki electorate boundary ignored natural boundaries and communities of interest.
But their submissions failed to sway the decision.
The Representation Commission looks at existing electorate boundaries, communities of interest, topographical features and projected variations in electoral populations but all South Island electorates must be plus or minus of the required average population of 57,562 people.
The Rangitata electorate includes Timaru city, Temuka, Orari and Ashburton up to the Rakaia River as well as Pleasant Point and its immediate surrounds.
The remaining parts of the Timaru District, including Geraldine and Pareora, are in the Waitaki electorate with the Mackenzie District, Waimate, Central Otago as well as the northern portion of Queenstown Lakes District and Wanaka. These boundaries will apply for the 2008 and 2011 election.
Under the Electoral Act, the boundaries of the general and Maori electorates must be reviewed after each population census and Maori Electoral Option. Statistics New Zealand calculates the average population size for electorates following the census.
There will be 70 electorates — 63 general electorates and seven Maori electorates. While the number of electorate seats increases by one, the overall size of Parliament does not change. The number of list seats will reduce from 51 to 50.
RANGITATA: The electorate heads north from southern Timaru to take in Ashburton.
WAITAKI: From the outskirts of Timaru through to Mt Cook, Wanaka and down to Middlemarch.