Resource material › Our Policy Advice Areas › Local Government Policy
- What is Local Government?
- Department of Internal Affairs' Roles in Local Government
- Current Projects
- NEW! Kaipara District Council (Updated 7 June 2016)
- Road encroachments guidance
- Better Local Services
- Scoping of Online Voting for Local Authority Elections
- Legislation to help Councils plan for future
- Submissions on property rules: Rules Reduction Taskforce
- Response to the Productivity Commission’s report Towards Better Local Regulation
- Appointment of Crown Manager for Christchurch City Council
- Amendments to the Local Electoral Act 2001 and Local Electoral Regulations 2001
- Local Government Mandatory Performance Measures
- Environment Canterbury Review
- Public safety around dogs
- Treaty of Waitangi Settlement Negotiations
- Ongoing Projects
- Further Information
OverviewThe DIA Policy Group provides policy advice to Ministers on:
The DIA Policy Group works closely with other government departments that work with Local Government and provides all departments with strategic advice as required.
What is Local Government?Few of the issues which government deal with are neatly contained within national boundaries. Some are global, a few are national, and many others are local. Either they affect only particular localities or they affect different localities differently, or the populations of different localities might legitimately have differing views on what ought to be done or how it should be done. All modern democracies divide the work of government between central government and some form of local, regional, or state government.
In New Zealand, there is central government and local government (involving both regional and territorial authorities).
Local AuthoritiesThere are 78 local authorities representing all areas of New Zealand.
- 11 Regional Councils
- 12 City Councils (which are largely urban)
- 54 District Councils
- 1 Auckland Council (which amalgamated 8 former councils on 1 November 2010).
Six of the territorial authorities, (including Auckland, 1 City and 4 District Councils), also have the powers of a regional council - these are sometimes referred to as “unitary authorities”.
New Zealand has more than 1,400 elected councillors and mayors, and nearly 23,000 local government employees.
For more information see: About Local Government (Local Councils website)
Department of Internal Affairs' Roles in Local GovernmentSecretary for Local GovernmentSection 2B of the Local Government Act 1974 provides that the person for the time being holding the office of Secretary for Internal Affairs shall be the Secretary for Local Government. The Seventeenth Schedule to the Act lists several Acts under which functions, powers and duties are conferred or imposed on the Minister of Local Government and the Secretary for Local Government.
Note: The Local Government Act 2002 was given royal assent on 24 December 2002. It repeals the Local Government Act 1974.
DIA Policy GroupAdvice on local government is provided to the Minister of Local Government and other ministers by the Policy Group of the Department of Internal Affairs. The Policy Group:
- provides policy advice on local government, including the framework of local government, to the Minister of Local Government and to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee on local Bills
- administers Acts and Regulations on behalf of the Minister of Local Government.
- provides services relating to the administration of statutes and local government information
- provides services relating to Lake Taupo, offshore islands, the Rates Rebate Scheme, disaster recovery grants and the Chatham Islands
- administers the harbourmaster functions at Lake Taupo.
Scoping of Online Voting for Local Authority ElectionsSee: Online voting for information about the government's scoping of online voting for local authority elections.
Better Local ServicesThe Better Local Services package enables innovation and collaboration in local government to deliver better local services and infrastructure.
Legislation to help Councils plan for futureOn 3 November 2015 the Minister of Local Government released a media statement to announce upcoming legislative change for the sector. This reflected a paper agreed by Cabinet on 27 October 2015. That paper is attached below. The paper contains some redacted text, which relates to financial matters under consideration.
Rules Reduction Taskforce report released (22/09/2015)
Response to the Productivity Commission’s report Towards Better Local RegulationIn May 2012, the Minister of Finance, the Minister for Regulatory Reform, and the Minister of Local Government requested that the Productivity Commission inquire into opportunities to improve regulatory performance in local government. This was to seek efficiency gains; address a lack of a consistency in what regulatory functions are best delivered nationally or locally; and respond to local government concern that councils are allocated functions without adequate mechanisms for funding. This work was commissioned as part of the Better Local Government programme.
The Productivity Commission’s report, Towards Better Local Regulation, was released in May 2013.
The Minister of Local Government, Hon Paula Bennett, and the Minister of Finance and for Regulatory Reform, Hon Bill English, announced on 22 July 2014 the Government’s response to the Report.
- Government response to recommendations of the Productivity Commission's report 'Towards Better Local Regulation' (.pdf, 298KB)*
- Local regulations go under microscope (press release, Beehive website, 22 July 2014)
- Taskforce to tackle loopy rules and regulations (press release, Beehive website, 22 July 2014)
Appointment of Crown Manager for Christchurch City CouncilIn July 2013, Doug Martin was appointed as Crown Manager for the Christchurch City Council’s building consenting functions. The Council regained accreditation as a building consent authority in December 2014 and the Crown Manager’s appointment expired on 31 December 2014. Below is the Crown Managers’ final report, provided in March 2015, and the Crown Manager’s progress reports. These have been provided quarterly since the October 2013 report.
- Final Report of the Crown Manager for Building Control at Christchurch City Council (March 2015) (.pdf) 501kb
- Crown Manager's progress report (September 2014) (.pdf) 206kb
- Crown Manager's progress report (June 2014) (.pdf) 175kb
- Crown Manager's progress report (March 2014) (.pdf) 226kb
- Crown Manager's progress report (December 2013) (.pdf) 310kb
- Crown Manager's progress report (18 October 2013) (.pdf) 105kb
- Crown Manager's progress report (6 September 2013) (.pdf) 46kb
The appointment was made under the provisions of the Local Government Act.
- Terms of reference (.pdf) 70k*
- Next steps for responding to Christchurch City Council consenting issues - 5 July 2013 (.pdf) 505kb
- Cabinet Minute - 8 July 2013 (.pdf) 185kb
Amendments to the Local Electoral Act 2001 and Local Electoral Regulations 2001
The Local Electoral Amendment Act 2013 changed the Local Electoral Act 2001 and the Local Electoral Regulations to improve provisions for the conduct of local elections and strengthen the integrity, transparency and efficiency of local electoral processes.
The changes provide greater transparency and accountability in local elections. The changes limit the size of anonymous donations that a recipient can keep, revise the definition of an anonymous donation, increase disclosure, reporting and recording obligations and introduce penalties for non-compliance.
The changes also cover the setting of ward boundaries, the information provided by candidates for local authority positions, the rules governing candidate nomination documentation, information about voting documents provided to electors and changes to streamline vote processing.
(released November 2012)
See Minister's media releases (Beehive website): Proposed changes to local electoral law (12/9/2012); Local electoral law bill passes first reading (7/11/2012); Local Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) passes second reading (21 March 2013); Changes to Local Electoral Bill to further improve transparency (27 March 2013).
For more information on local elections please visit the Local Elections page.
Local Government Mandatory Performance MeasuresIn 2010, the Local Government Act 2002 was amended to require the Secretary for Local Government to make rules specifying non financial performance measures for local authorities to use when reporting to their communities. The aim was to help the public to contribute to discussions on future levels of service for their communities and to participate more easily in their local authority’s decision-making processes.
The performance measures will do this through providing better information about the levels of service for five groups of activities carried out by local authorities – stormwater drainage, sewerage and the disposal of sewage, flood protection and control works, water supply, and the provision of footpaths and roads. Local authorities will be required to use a standard set of performance measures for these five activities when reporting to their communities.
The Non-Financial Performance Measures Rules 2013Following public consultation the rules were finalised. They come into force on 30 July 2014. Local authorities will be required to incorporate the performance measures in the development of their new 2015-2025 long-term plans. The performance measures will therefore be reported against for the first time in the 2015/2016 annual reports. Other local government organisations that provide one, or more, of the groups of activities must also include the relevant performance measures in their statements of intent.
- Non-Financial Reporting Measures Rules 2013 - Word version (.doc)
- Non-Financial Reporting Measures Rules 2013 - Signed PDF version (.pdf)
Material incorporated by reference in the Non-Financial Performance Measures Rules 2013The Rules also include the following material incorporated by reference:
- the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2000 [Ministry of Health website]
- the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (Revised 2008) [Ministry of Health website]
Guidance for the implementation of the Local Government Mandatory Performance MeasuresThe following guidance is available to help local authorities report on the measures.
The guidance provides an initial focus for local authorities’ reporting, and is intended to provide the basis for local authorities to then add their own commentary.
The measures are not intended to provide a means for central government to prescribe service standards for local authorities, but instead are intended to ensure that members of the public can compare the level of service provided by different councils. Therefore, although they require local authorities to measure particular things, they do not include any specified targets for local authority performance.
It is for each local authority, in consultation with its ratepayers, to determine the level of service it intends to provide. The worked examples in the guidance are examples and local authorities are not required to report in this exact manner.
Flood Control and Protection
- Flood Control and Protection - Word version (.doc) 96k
- Flood Control and Protection - PDF version (.pdf) 22k
Roads and Footpaths
- Water - Word version (.doc) 130k (updated July 2014)
- Water - PDF version (.pdf) 128k (updated July 2014)
- Water - additional guidance, July 2014 - Word version (.docx) 130k
- Water - additional guidance, July 2014 - PDF version (.pdf) 55k
Public consultation on draft performance measuresThe Department of Internal Affairs developed a set of draft measures with input from the local government sector and expert groups and undertook a public consultation on the draft performance measures earlier this year. Summaries of the submissions received can be found below.
- Flood Control and Protection submissions report - Word version (.doc) 121k
- Flood Control and Protection submissions report - PDF version (.pdf) 85k
- Roads and Footpaths submissions report - Word version (.doc) 171k
- Roads and Footpaths submissions report - PDF version (.pdf) 80k
- Sewerage submissions report - Word version (.doc) 2031k
- Sewerage submissions report - PDF version (.pdf) 130k
- Stormwater submissions report - Word version (.doc) 180k
- Stormwater submissions report - PDF version (.pdf) 97k
- Water Supply submissions report - Word version (.doc) 219k
- Water Supply submissions report - PDF version (.pdf) 87k
Environment Canterbury ReviewGovernment has announced a mixed-model governance structure for Environment Canterbury (ECan) after the local government elections in October 2016. The mixed-model governance structure will have a mix of seven community elected councillors, and up to six Government-appointed councillors.
Better Local Government
- Better Local Government
This is a local government programme which began in March 2012.
The reforms are aimed at providing better clarity around the role of councils, stronger governance, improved efficiency and more responsible financial management.
Other current legislative and policy projects include:
- Kaipara District Council:
LATEST: On 31 May 2016, the Associate Minister of Local Government announced that Kaipara will return to a fully-elected Council. The Associate Minister has called an election of the Kaipara District Council, to be held on 8 October 2016. The Associate Minister will also be appointing a Crown Manager and Crown Observer to support the newly-elected Council. See the Minister’s 2016 media release Kaipara to return to a fully-elected Council (Beehive website) and read the notice calling an election of the Council (Gazette website).
A review of Kaipara District Council’s performance by the government-appointed Kaipara Review Team in 2012 led to the Council requesting commissioners take over governance of the district. Appointing commissioners under the Local Government Act was also the review team’s central recommendation. The Minister of Local Government David Carter appointed commissioners in August 2012. View 2012 media release: Kaipara council commissioners appointed (Beehive website) and read the notice of appointment and Terms of Reference (Gazette website).
On 24 April 2015 Associate Minister of Local Government Louise Upston announced that the Commissioners appointed to the Kaipara District Council in 2012 will be reappointed for a further year. The Council will now have an election in October 2016, the same as with triennial general elections for all local authorities. See Minister’s 2015 media release Kaipara District Council Commissioners Re-Appointed (Beehive website)
- Public safety around dogs:
The Department’s policy team provides advice about dog control and dog legislation to Ministers. Dog control legislation is enforced by local councils. The legislation gives Councils powers to respond to complaints and to enforce owner responsibilities and for the care and control of their dog(s).
The Department has a public education programme for dog owners, parents and children. The programme includes a website and resources for schools: www.dogsafety.govt.nz
- Treaty of Waitangi Settlement Negotiations
The Department assists the Office of Treaty Settlements in their work when it affects local government.
Ongoing ProjectsOther legislative and policy projects we are working on include:
Local Government Transparency, Accountability and Fiscal ManagementFor backround information about the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill, including a Decisions Document and related Cabinet papers, see:
Local Government accords between the Minister of Local Government and IwiOn 19 December 2009, the Crown signed a Deed of Settlement with Waikato-Tainui to settle its historical Treaty of Waitangi claims relating to the Waikato River. The overarching purpose of the settlement is to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River for future generations.
As part of the settlement, on 18 June 2010, Waikato-Tainui and the Associate Minister of Local Government signed a Local Government Accord in relation to the Waikato River. The Local Government Accord sets out how Waikato-Tainui and the Minister of Local Government will establish and maintain a positive, co-operative and enduring relationship regarding local government matters that directly impact the healthy and wellbeing of the Waikato River.
- The Waikato-Tainui Local Government Accord (PDF, 625K)*
A copy of the Waikato River Deed of Settlement signed between the Crown and Waikato-Tainui is on the website of the Office of Treaty Settlements www.ots.govt.nz.
Auckland GovernanceOn 1 November 2010 the Auckland Council replaced the Auckland Regional Council, Auckland City Council, Manukau City Council, North Shore City Council, Papakura District Council, Rodney District Council, Waitakere City Council and Franklin District Council as the unitary authority for the Auckland District.
On 29 March 2012 the Auckland Spatial Plan was adopted by Auckland Council. This sets out the strategy for Auckland's development over the next thirty years. It is viewed by Government as a key way to develop an integrated approach to managing Auckland’s growth, meeting central government objectives and avoiding duplication of effort across local and central government. Government agencies continue to work with Auckland Council as the Auckland Spatial Plan moves into implementation. The plan can be found here:
- Government response to the Auckland Spatial Plan (released 20 July 2012)
- Government Decisions in Response to the Royal Commision on Auckland Governance - Cabinet Papers
(Includes 'Water Issues' - released 5 November 2009)
- Monitoring and evaluating the Auckland governance reforms
The following two reports provide a framework for stakeholders to undertake ongoing evaluation and monitoring of the Auckland governance reform process and its outcomes. They were developed by the Department of Internal Affairs and Martin, Jenkins and Associates in 2010.
Further InformationMore information about the Local Government portfolio and its issues:
- Road encroachments guidance (March 2016) - A current, best-practice example for managing and approving road encroachments
- Improving Local Government Transparency, Accountability and Fiscal Management - Cabinet Paper (April 2009)
- Briefing for the Incoming Minister of Local Government. For a hard copy version please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Evaluating the Central-Local Government Interface in the Community Outcomes Process - Report evaluating the Department of Internal Affairs’ facilitation of the Central / Local Government Interface in the Community Outcomes Process (April 2007)
- Local Government Funding Project - Background information about the Local Government Funding Project, including a link to the July 2005 and December 2006 reports on Local Authority Funding Issues
- Policy development guidelines for regulatory functions involving local government (December 2006) These guidelines have been prepared to prompt and assist central government agencies to identify and consider key issues that may arise where local authorities are, or are proposed to be, involved in the implementation of regulatory functions
- Understanding Local Government (Information sheets on Local Councils website: www.localcouncils.govt.nz)
- Rate Increases - Questions & Answers (August 2006)
- Strategy for Evaluating Local Government Legislation (December 2005) Link here to a copy of the strategy developed by the Department of Internal Affairs for evaluating the roles, responsibilities, powers and accountabilities of local government as defined by the Local Government Act 2002, the Local Electoral Act 2001, and the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002
- Central Government Engagement in Community Outcomes Processes - promoting effective central government engagement with local government as part of local government’s identification of community outcomes - August 2004
- Community Outcomes Processes - including link to COP Resource Kit
- Local Government (Rating) Act Update (28 June 2002)
- Local Government Act 2002
- Local Government Commission
- Local Government Operations - summary of the role of the Local Government Operations team