Resource material › Our Policy Advice Areas › Local Government Policy
- Current Projects
- Ongoing Projects
- What is Local Government?
- Department of Internal Affairs' Roles in Local Government
- 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.
Current ProjectsDevelopment of Local Government Mandatory Performance MeasuresFrom 2015, local authorities must use a standard set of performance measures when reporting to their communities on the delivery of five groups of activities - water supply, sewerage and the treatment and disposal of sewage, stormwater drainage, flood protection and control works, and the provision of roads and footpaths. Council-controlled organisations that provide one or more of the groups of activities will also have to use the performance measures. These are requirements under reforms in 2010 to the Local Government Act 2002 that are designed to promote better transparency, accountability and financial management of local government.
The performance measures will provide information on levels of service for the five groups of activities. This information will help the public to contribute to discussions on future levels of service for their communities. It will enable them to participate more easily and effectively in their local authority’s decision-making processes.
In February 2013 the Department completed consulting with the public and local authorities on a set of draft performance measures for each group of activities. Feedback provided is currently being considered and will be used to develop the final performance measures.
Amendments to the Local Electoral Act 2001 and Local Electoral Regulations 2001
- Cabinet Paper - Amending the donation provisions In the Local Electoral Act 2001:
- Local Electoral Act 2001Cabinet Paper - PDF version (.pdf) 183k
- Local Electoral Act 2001Cabinet Paper - Word version (.doc) 250k
(released November 2012)
The proposed changes to the Act's provisions for donations will enable greater transparency and accountability in local elections. The changes will limit the size of an anonymous donation that a recipient can keep, revise the definition of an anonymous donation, increase disclosure, reporting and recording obligations and introduce penalties for non-compliance with new obligations.
The Bill also covers 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.
The Bill was introduced to Parliament on 15 October 2012, passed its first reading on 6 November, its second reading on 21 March and now awaits completion of its Committee of the whole house stage.
Note: The Bill replaces the Local Electoral Amendment Bill which was introduced in 2011 but has now been discharged.
A copy of the Regulatory Impact Statement for the Local Electoral Amendment Bill No2 and the earlier Local Electoral Amendment Bill from 2011 can be found here: Local Electoral Amendment Bill - Regulatory Impact Statements
- 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).
- Environment Canterbury
Environment Canterbury has been governed by seven commissioners since a review of the elected body in 2010 showed the council was not performing.
The legislation governing their terms states that these end at the local government elections in 2013. However, the Government has decided to extend the commission until 2016, with a Ministerial review planned for 2014.
- Cabinet papers relating to the decision to extend the Commission until 2016 (released 5 October 2012)
- Independent review of Environment Canterbury (February 2010)
Better Local Government
- Better Local Government
The Minister of Local Government recently announced an eight point reform programme for local government.
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 Council
A review of Kaipara Council’s performance by the government-appointed Kaipara Review Team 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. The media release, review team report and details of the commissioners can be found on the beehive website (link to announcement) See Minister's media release: Kaipara council commissioners 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 the Department of Internal Affairs and other 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.
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).
There 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 Government
Section 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 Group
Advice 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.
The Department also carries out a variety of services and has operational responsibilities with regard to local government. The DIA Policy Group:
- 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.
Further InformationMore information about the Local Government portfolio and its issues:
- 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: email@example.com
- 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