Massive change lies ahead for voters in the Hunua electorate.
Boundary alterations ahead of the 2020 and 2023 general elections will see the electorate’s name changed to Port Waikato, and its area shifted south and transformed from urban to rural.
Hunua MP Andrew Bayly’s seat will be severely impacted by the proposed changes – of all the electorates, his is probably the one changed to the greatest degree.
The population in every electorate in New Zealand has grown since the boundaries were last adjusted in 2014. Some have increased more than others and the changes proposed by the Representation Commission aim to balance the populations in each electorate.
Of the 71 current seats, 35 will change with the biggest impact in the Auckland region, Christchurch, Otago and Southland.
One new electorate, called Flat Bush, will be created to the east of Manurewa.
Hunua will lose almost two-thirds of its area to the Papakura seat and the new Flat Bush.
Gone to Papakura will be Beachlands, Whitford, Kawakawa Bay, Orere Point, Clevedon, Hunua, Ararimu, Ramarama and Bombay.
The redrawn Port Waikato will retain Pukekohe, Waiuku, Clarks Beach, Glenbrook and Awhitu.
It will pick up a large chunk of what is now the Waikato electorate, including Tuakau, Onewhero, Port Waikato, Pokeno, Maramarua, Mercer, Meremere and Te Kauwhata.
Papakura will lose Wattle Downs and Takanini to Flat Bush.
Mr Bayly, the National MP who has held Hunua since 2014, says his essentially urban seat will become a rural electorate.
That changes the seat’s demographics and the issues that will be important to its people.
“Being a local electorate MP, it’s really important that you represent an area well – and it’s essential to feel that you can adequately support a community that covers a certain geographical area.”
Hunua already includes pockets of rural communities – and having his own farming interests – Mr Bayly’s more than familiar with the issues affecting them.
“But it will mean the nature of the work I do, the way I engage with communities, will change quite significantly.
“For instance in my old electorate, I have 41 schools, 60 early childhood education centres, 14 Fire Brigades, and 14 residents & ratepayers groups.
“I’m going to lose half of those, if not more, and I will have to develop new relationships with those Fire Brigades, those groups, those communities, in the new electorate.
“That’s the brutal part about boundary changes – you spend time building up trust and knowledge of the communities you represent and, more importantly, the people you meet and engage with and suddenly at the stroke of a pen, you lose access to those people.
“In many ways, that’s the saddest thing about boundary changes.”
It’s essential that people feel a sense of belonging to whatever electorate they are included in, he says.
And it’s important too that they have their say on the changes proposed. The boundaries won’t be finalised until April 2020 and people are encouraged to give their feedback on them.
Mr Bayly is predicting National will retain its party support in the revised electorates.
“Obviously we will see what happens in time – the maps have only just come out. But my seat will most likely stay a strong National seat and Judith Collins’ Papakura seat will be the same. Manurewa will stay with Labour’s Louisa Wall and the new seat, I would imagine, would be a National seat.
“But right now that’s not the most important thing; I think the most important thing is for the community to engage in the process and that we end up with seats that represent good communities of interest; that people feel they have a sense of belonging to and being a part of that new electorate.”
To check out the details of the changes and make a submission go to https://vote.nz/boundary-review-2019-2020/