In the remotest corner of the Tararua district, one family could hold the keys to local government reform in the Wellington region.
A 6745-hectare area known as the Mataikona River catchment, in the coastal hills southeast of Dannevirke, has been included in the Wellington region in 1989 when local landowners preferred its pest control and land management services.
The latest figures from the Electoral Commission show there are only three registered voters in the area, meaning the future of local government in Wellington could be up to either sheep and beef farmer Dennis Maher, his wife Shirley or his daughter Abby.
The region is so remote there is only one formed road into it, the dead-end Sugarloaf Rd, off a windy, gravelled route between Pongaroa and Akitio. There is no access from the Wellington region to the south, except on foot or by sea.
The Mahers, who also run the Pongaroa Farm Centre, are relaxed about the responsibility.
Mrs Maher was not sure whether the family would like to become part of Horizons Regional Council, like the rest of Tararua.
"I don't see what the difference is - I mean it's part of our rates, isn't it. Whether they come from Wellington or Masterton or wherever, it doesn't matter really."
The family have farmed in the district for 22 years.
"There's plenty of bush, it's nice and quiet. It's not easy country, but I wouldn't say it's real hard country."
Mr Maher said he did not take much notice of local politics "unless they upset me", and probably would not push for a poll.
"Just leave it as it is, it doesn't worry me. All these experts and consultants, the further they are from me the better, really. We do all right without them."
Dannevirke land surveyor Chris Bone said the area was the most remote he had worked in. "It's real tiger country . . . In terms of remoteness, it's as far away from anywhere as you can be."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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