The Local Government Commission has approved changes in the way Northlanders are represented on their regional council.
It has increased the number of councillors from eight to nine and approved seven smaller constituencies across the north.
Northland Regional Council proposed the changes as part of a six-yearly review required under the Local Electoral Act.
Critics have seen the move as the council setting up the framework for a single unitary authority for the region.
But the commission says the council has used an appropriate process to achieve effective representation of identified communities of interest.
The new constituencies are Te Hiku in the Far North, Hokianga-Kaikohe, Coastal North including the Hikurangi Swamp, Coastal Central, Whangarei Urban, Coastal South and Kaipara.
The regional council chair Craig Brown says the nine councillors will share the same money now allocated to eight.