Key business and community organisation leaders are voicing "grave" concerns about proposals for a Wairarapa unitary authority and urging caution until further investigation and consultation can be carried out.
The Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce, Federated Farmers, Rangitane o Wairarapa, and Sustainable Wairarapa want the Wairarapa Governance Review Working Party to withhold submitting their proposal to the Local Government Commission next month.
Together with other regional stakeholders, the group are asking for more time to explore alternatives and allow the public to catch up on what this means for the region.
Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Stephanie Gundersen-Reid says there is concern a the level of "enthusiasm" for a single unitary authority.
"The Wairarapa Governance Review Working Party is rushing through their proposal. We are asking everyone to slow down, take a step back and adopt a more holistic approach," she said.
Representatives of the groups feel that the confusion surrounding the invitation to the Wellington Governance Group meetings needs to resolved.
Wairarapa Federated Farmers president Jamie Falloon says it is important for Wairarapa and Wellington to produce a proposal for the Local Government Commission that best suits the needs of the region. The worst thing that could happen is the Local Government Commission decides the best proposal is one that Wairarapa has had no involvement in developing, he says.
"By not being part of the discussions this narrows the focus of debate and denies Wairarapa residents a chance to fully learn and explore alternative options.
"We want to see the Wairarapa and Wellington Groups sit around the table together and show real leadership," he says.
Global experience indicates that rural areas surrounding centres of economic power decline if they are not an integral part of the governance of that economic region.
Sustainable Wairarapa spokesperson Don Bell said the debate about what is best for Wairarapa is about more than just the cost, but the future of our region.
"We should be looking at what we want our region to be in the decades to come and ensure the best governance model is put in place to get us there."
Rangitane o Wairarapa Jason Kerehi says a solution must be found that guarantees the maximum benefit for the entire region.
People are urged to voice their concerns and make a submission to the Wairarapa Working Group. Submissions can be made online at wairarapasfuture.govt.nz and close on February 4.
- Wairarapa News