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Wānanga, Petihana, Tira me Pōti Tūmatanui

Public Forums, Petitions, Deputations and Referendum

If you want to speak to the Council, present a petition or ask for a public referendum, the information below explains how you can do this.

Public Forums

What is a public forum?

Public forum is a time set aside at the beginning of each Council or Committee meeting that allows the public to come and speak and present any matters they wish to bring to the attention of the Council or Committee.   

You have five minutes to speak.

Requests must be made to our Governance Team at least one clear day before the meeting; however, this requirement may be waived by the Chairperson. Requests should also outline the matters that will be addressed by the speakers.

With the permission of the Chairperson, you may be asked questions by members of the Council or committee after you have finished speaking.  

Generally, there is no debate or decisions made at the meeting on issues raised during the public forum, unless there are items already on the agenda.

Yes, you need the Commission Chair Anne Tolley’s permission to speak to the Council or the permission of the Chairperson of the relevant committee.

The Commission Chair or Chairperson has the discretion to decline to hear a speaker or to terminate a presentation at any time where:

  • a speaker is repeating views presented by an earlier speaker at the meeting;
  • the speaker is criticising staff;
  • the speaker is being repetitious, disrespectful or offensive;
  • the speaker has previously spoken on the same issue;
  • the matter is subject to legal proceedings;
  • the matter is subject to a hearing, including the hearing of submissions where the local authority or committee sits in a quasi-judicial capacity.


Public Forums are set out in our standing orders in section 15. 

Petitions

What is a petition?

Petitions generally ask the Council to act on something or investigate an issue that people are concerned about.  

Anyone of any age can start a petition including individuals, corporations, and community groups.  Those representing a corporation or community group must include a signature from an authorised officer of the body or group.  

The organiser of a petition will be called the Principal Petitioner.  This person will become the main point of contact for the Council.

Petitions must contain at least 20 signatures and consist of fewer than 150 words (not including signatories).

It’s a good idea to give a brief reason for why you are making the request and helps people to understand what you are asking them to sign. 

  • People who sign petitions must state their full name, physical address including suburb and add their signature.  In the case of an electronic petition, the signatory must provide their email address in place of their signature. 
  • unless incapacitated, a person must sign a petition personally (a person signing on behalf of a person incapacitated must state this fact beside the signature);
  • signatures must be original (not photocopied, faxed, scanned, pasted, or otherwise transferred onto sheets of the petition)

A petition when presented at the Council meeting becomes public information.  

The name of the person organising the petition (the Principal Petitioner) and the names of those who sign the petition, and their suburb will be publicly available.  

The contact details of the signatories, such as address, telephone numbers and email addresses and signatures will be withheld and not made publicly available.

The details of the Principal Petitioner will be available if they indicate that they do not object to those contact details being released.  An email contact address should at least be provided by the Principal Petitioner.

Petitions can be presented in hard copy or electronic form. Electronic petitions can be shared online if you want to collect signatures; paper petitions must be signed in person.  In the case of an electronic petition, the signatory must provide their email address in place of their signature. 

No, you can’t, but you can include them if you present your petition to the Council or Committee.

Petitions must be received by the Chief Executive at least 5 working days before the date of the meeting at which they will be presented. 

Petitions may be written in English or te reo Māori. Petitioners planning to present their petition in te reo Māori or sign language should advise the Chief Executive in time to allow translation services to be arranged (i.e. 5 working days before the date of the meeting).

A petitioner who presents a petition to the Council or any of its committees and subcommittees may speak for 10 minutes (excluding questions) about the petition unless the meeting decides otherwise.  

Where a petition is presented as part of a deputation or public forum the speaking time limits relating to deputations or public forums shall apply (5 minutes).  

The Council or committee will usually formally accept the petition, and if necessary, by a resolution, request staff to prepare a report on the matters addressed in the petition.  The Council can refer the petition to a committee that deals with this matter.

The Principal Petitioner will be advised of the meeting date when the Council or committee will consider a report on the matters in the petition. Please note that the Council will not notify all the signatories to the petition individually of when a report on the matters in the petition will be considered.

The Council reserves the right to refuse a petition for the following reasons:

  • the petition is not within the jurisdiction of the Council* 
  • the petition is not in the proper form**
  • the petition is not received in the required timeframe
  • the petition is repetitious or is similar to an earlier petition that has already been considered by the Council
  • the petition contains malicious statements, defamatory information or unfounded allegations
  • the petition contains inaccurate or misleading statements
  • the petition contains objectionable language
  • the petition is for self-promotion, political or otherwise
  • the petition is founded on personal slander or attack
  • the petition relates to the legal processes that the Council must follow (e.g. a resource consent or quasi-judicial process).

* if the matters in the petition falls outside the scope of the Council’s jurisdiction e.g. a matter for a court or tribunal, central government or the Office of the Ombudsman or Privacy Commissioner, then the Principal Petitioner will be advised of this.

** If the petition is not in the proper form it will be returned to the Principal Petitioner.


The form of petitions and how they are presented are set out in our standing orders.

Deputations

What is a deputation?

A deputation can be a person, group or organisation who make a presentation to a meeting on a matter that the meeting has responsibility to consider. Usually it relates to an agenda item that is being considered by the Council or committee.

Deputations are generally approved by the Commission Chair Anne Tolley or the Chairperson of a committee, but can also be approved by an official with delegated authority, such as the Chief Executive, five working days before the meeting.

Deputations may be heard at the beginning of the meeting or at the time that the relevant agenda item is being considered.

Presenters on behalf of deputations can do so in English, te reo Māori or sign language. Those planning to present in te reo Māori or sign language should advise the Chief Executive in time to allow translation services to be arranged (i.e. 5 working days before the date of the meeting).

Speakers on behalf of a deputation may speak for up to 5 minutes (excluding questions). No more than two speakers can speak on behalf of an organisation’s deputation.  

With the permission of the Chairperson, you may be asked questions by members of the Council or committee at the end of your deputation.  

Any debate on a matter raised in a deputation must occur at the time at which the matter is scheduled to be discussed on the meeting agenda, and once a motion has been moved and seconded.

Yes, the Chairperson of the meeting has the discretion to decline to hear or terminate a deputation at any time where:

  • a speaker is repeating views presented by an earlier speaker at the meeting;
  • the speaker is criticising staff;
  • the speaker is being repetitious, disrespectful or offensive;
  • the speaker has previously spoken on the same issue;
  • the matter is subject to legal proceedings;
  • the matter is subject to a hearing, including the hearing of submissions where the local authority or committee sits in a quasi-judicial capacity.

For more information please contact the governance team by phone on 07-577 7000 or email at democracy.services@tauranga.govt.nz 

Deputations are set out in our standing orders in section 16.

Referendum

What is a referendum?

There are different types of referenda, statutory and discretionary.

There are binding and non-binding referenda. Binding means the Council must act on the results of the referendum and non-binding means the Council does not have to act on the results of the referendum.

Statutory referenda are held under the provisions of the Local Electoral Act 2001, the Local Government Acts 1974 or 2002 or any other legislation and relate to conducting a binding referendum.

Discretionary referenda are also held under the same legislation as statutory referenda and can be either a council-directed referendum or a public-demanded referendum.

A public-demanded referendum is where the Council holds a referendum on a proposal submitted by the public and approved by the Council.   All public-demanded referenda are non-binding.

Referenda can be held as part of an election or can be held separately.

Referenda Policy

The Council has a Referenda Policy that sets out the circumstances under which a referendum may be held and ensures council's processes comply with statutory requirements.

For more information about public forums, petitions, deputations and referendums, please contact the governance team by phone on 07-577 7000 or email at democracy.services@tauranga.govt.nz.

Want to discuss further?

For more information please contact the governance team by phone on 07-577 7000 or email at democracy.services@tauranga.govt.nz 

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