Thousands of people around Whangarei will soon be on the move without having to budge a centimetre after changes to ward boundaries.
The Whangarei District Council yesterday approved changes to the map that will shift about 3800 people into what were previously neighbouring wards.
The adjustment was necessary because Denby ward had outgrown its legal ratio of residents per councillor. Shifting the boundaries means the number of council representatives to be elected next year remains the same - a mayor and 13 councillors. In July the council looked at options to remedy the situation, including adding another councillor, merging wards or changing ward boundaries.
The council used the necessary boundary change as an opportunity to have wards better reflect their communities of interest. All wards have partially redrawn boundaries as a result.
The downsizing of Denby will see some streets in that ward step into Whangarei Heads while others move into Mangakahia-Maungatapere. A swathe of rural Mangakahia-Maungatapere will head south into the Bream Bay ward, and a wedge of Raumanga will leave Okara to join other streets in the suburb that are already in the Bream Bay ward.
Denby will also be trimmed by the Hikurangi-Coastal ward edging closer to urban-fringe Kamo, and Okara will encircle Kensington Park and adjacent streets.
"It fixes a lot of issues. It doesn't fit every issue, but it's as good as we can expect to have," Cr Aaron Edwards said.
Cr Merv Williams thought the changes would prove "a stop-gap measure". He said the boundaries would have to be changed again when - not if - a pan-regional unitary authority was created, requiring fewer elected local government representatives.
The council adopted the new boundaries plan with no changes to a draft map presented in July. The start of a four-week period in which appeals can be lodged will be publicly notified next week.