MP “gutted” to see Clutha move to another electorate

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MIKE HOULAHAN and JOHN COSGROVE

Dunedin South electorate is to be renamed Taieri and Clutha-Southland becomes just Southland, as part of the electorate boundary changes announced last week.

However, it will force some changes on who represents the area.

MP for Clutha-Southland Hamish Walker said he was “gutted” to see Clutha move to another electorate.

“It has been a real honour and privilege representing this area. Ultimately the changes were completely out of my control and we must accept the electoral commission’s determination.

“One aspect of the changes I’m really happy about is seeing Owaka and other parts of the Catlins staying in the Southland electorate,” he said.

New Zealand First List MP based in Clutha-Southland Mark Patterson agreed and said that from a Clutha perspective, ideally it would have been better to have the whole district within one electorate.

“I am considering my own options now that my home in Lawrence is within the new Taieri electorate boundaries,” he said.

The Representation Commission, which sets electorate boundaries for the next two elections, released the borders for the 2020 and 2023 elections and in it they substantially redrew the electoral map in Otago and Southland.

The former Dunedin South seat now takes in new territory to the south, all the way to Balclutha, and becomes Taieri.

The commission stated that it had received a number of well thought-through submissions with alternative boundaries for these electorates.

“Some of these alternatives resulted in less overall change but would have resulted in significant consequential adjustments to neighbouring electorates.

“After considerable and intensive discussion, the commission has confirmed the Dunedin and Taieri borders as proposed.”

When the commission issued its draft electorate boundaries for public consultation earlier in the year, it had placed the Catlins in the Invercargill electorate.

“The boundaries in all five electorates in the Otago and Southland regions had to be adjusted as they were either under or over the 5% population quota,” the commission said.