In this article
- Who sets the boundaries for electorates?
- Why are electorate boundaries reviewed?
- Does the size of Parliament change?
- What does the Representation Commission consider when setting boundaries?
Who sets the boundaries for electorates?
The Representation Commission is the independent body that reviews the boundaries and names of electorates. Public officials and government and opposition appointees make up the Representation Commission. Usually a current or retired judge chairs the Commission.
Why are electorate boundaries reviewed?
Regularly adjusting the electorate boundaries makes sure each electorate has about the same number of people. This gives all New Zealanders equal representation in Parliament.
The Representation Commission uses total population to adjust boundaries, rather than just registered voters, because members of Parliament represent everyone living in their area, not just those who can register to vote.
Does the size of Parliament change?
No. A change in the overall size of Parliament can only be done by changing the law. If more electorates are created due to population growth, the number of list seats reduces.
What does the Representation Commission consider when setting boundaries?
The Representation Commission’s primary role is to ensure that each electorate has about the same number of people. The number of people in each electorate cannot be more than 5 percent larger or 5 percent smaller than its determined population quota.
The population quotas are the average populations of North Island, South Island and Māori electorates.
The Representation Commission also considers:
- existing electorate boundaries
- communities of interest — including iwi affiliations in Māori electorates
- the infrastructure that links communities, such as main roads
- topographic features such as mountains and rivers
- projected variations in electorate populations over the next 5 years.
The Representation Commission also looks at whether the names of electorates are still relevant.
The public is then invited to have their say on the proposed boundaries and names. Public consultation happens in three stages:
- written objections
- written counter-objections
- public hearings.
The Representation Commission takes all public submissions into consideration, and then issues its final report. Any new names and boundaries will take effect at the following general election.