Central/Local Government Partnerships

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How we work
Our people



The Central/Local Government Partnerships (CLGP) team within the Department of Internal Affairs was established in mid-2017 to facilitate a collaborative system-wide, public service approach in which central and local government work effectively together for the benefit of people, communities, business, and the environment. 

Our CLGP team (see below) provides the expertise and experience across central and local government agencies to build relationships, provide a two-way conduit for issues playing out in local government, and support a range of activities that are critical for communities and are a shared priority for both arms of government.

How we work

Developing strong relationships with relevant policy agencies in central government – for example, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, New Zealand Transport Agency, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Health, The Treasury – as well as working with lead groups across the sector such as Local Government New Zealand and the Society of Local Government Managers, is key to the team’s approach.

Partnerships Directors spend considerable time in their regional “constituencies’’ connecting with local government and gathering and providing information. In addition Partnerships Directors have particular portfolio responsibilities through which they provide leadership for key joint initiatives (see below) between central and local government. A guide to for central local government engagement can be found here:

The team also works with the Policy, Regulation and Communities branch of the Department of Internal Affairs, tapping into the existing expertise from the Policy Group to support emerging priority policy matters impacting local government.

Our people

Deputy Chief Executive

Michael Lovett (acting)


Portfolios: Digital Local Government Partnership; Inquiry into Funding of Local Government; Community Resilience

LGNZ Zone 3: Central North Island

Partnerships Directors

Allan Prangnell


Portfolios: Three Waters Review

Sarah Polaschek


LGNZ Zone 5: Upper South Island/Canterbury

Warren Ulusele


LGNZ Zone 6: Southland/Otago/West Coast 

Portfolios: Housing and Urban Development; Urban Growth Agenda

Paul Barker


LGNZ Zone 4: Greater Wellington

Portfolios: Community Resilience (including natural hazards and climate change adaptation); Tourism

Justine Smith


LGNZ Zone 1: Northland/Auckland

Portfolios: Maori/Crown relations (local government), Local Governance for Community Wellbeing

Henry Dowler


LGNZ Zone 2: Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Portfolios: Local Government Funding, Financing, Planning and Reporting

Richard Ward


Portfolios: Three Waters Review

Executive Assistant

Jessica vanHaarlem


Manager Branch Development and Support

Olwyn Crutchley


Team Administrator:

Geena Morgan


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Three Waters Review

The Three Waters Review was established in mid-2017 by government, alongside the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry, as a cross-agency initiative led by the CLGP team within the Department. The review is tasked with looking into the challenges facing our three waters system and developing recommendations for system-wide performance improvements. The work covers the regulation, ownership and governance of drinking water, waste water and storm water, their related assets, and their management and service delivery. 

In July 2019, the Government approved a suite of regulatory reforms to help ensure safe drinking water and deliver improved environmental outcomes from New Zealand’s wastewater and stormwater systems. In late September, the Government agreed to establish a new Crown entity as the independent drinking water regulator.

More information here: Three Waters Review

Inquiry into the funding of local government 

The Government announced in August 2018 that the Productivity Commission would be undertaking an inquiry into the costs and revenue of local government. The inquiry is expected to provide a final report by November 2019.  A copy of the terms of reference can be found here: Local government funding and financing inquiry (Productivity Commission website)

In July 2019, the Commission published its draft report and sought submissions (PDF, 5.6MB, Productivity Commission website).

The CLGP team will be assisting the Government with its response to the Inquiry. As part of its work programme, it commissioned two reports from consultants. The first report, prepared by MorrisonLow, provided a picture of local government finances now and into the future. The context for this is provided in the Questions and Answers below. The second report examined the adequacy of the Local Government financial management framework.

The context for this is provided in the associated Questions and Answers:

Latest (November 2019):

Digital Local Government Partnership

The Department is supporting a group of rural and provincial local government chief executives who are taking a collaborative approach to digital transformation. At the heart of this endeavour is the belief that the local government sector can achieve more together than it can alone.

At the beginning of 2018 the Department conducted a number of workshops with the group, as well as the Society of Local Government Managers and Local Government New Zealand. Discussions have also been held with the Association of Local Government Information Management.

These conversations explored options to advance a collaborative effort to digital transformation and resulted in the establishment of a shared vision statement, an operating structure and a shared work programme.

Each local authority chief executive will sponsor a specific work programme item – advancing it for the benefit of all participating parties.

Five key work areas have been identified:

  • improving customer and user experience;
  • connectivity and digital coverage;
  • innovation and design;
  • platforms and digital applications; and
  • strategy and policy.

On 15 August 2018, the group launched the Digital Local Government Partnership.  The launch event was attended by over 50 staff from throughout New Zealand. On the day chief executives were encouraged to sign up to the group’s digital charter.

There are now 17 parties who are signatories to the charter:

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Housing and Urban Development

The Government has an ambitious housing and urban development programme to end homelessness, make room for growth in our urban centres, deliver more public and affordable housing, and help create thriving communities. There are commitments to work with hapu, iwi and Maori groups to ensure that Maori have fair and equal access to housing and opportunities for home ownership.

This work programme is central to meeting many local government priorities. Better urban development integrated with smarter transport and infrastructure investment, and delivering greater housing choice for all, will help drive opportunity and prosperity. Improving housing supply, affordability, quality and security is closely linked to achieving many of our key social goals, including reducing child poverty, improving mental health, and reducing prison numbers.

The CLGP team are heavily involved in this work programme looking at the role local government can play in the pursuit of these objectives and how new initiatives will impact at the local level.

As an example, the team is leading work with other government agencies, and in partnership with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, on a spatial plan and supporting investment plan, including exploring new funding mechanisms such as the proposed Queenstown visitor levy

Urban Growth Agenda

The Urban Growth Agenda (UGA) is a significant programme of coordinated activities that aims to make houses more affordable for all New Zealanders.

Underpinned by strong central/local government partnerships, the UGA programme is reviewing regulatory systems that impact the cost of houses, i.e. controls around urban land supply, how infrastructure is provided and funded, and how cities plan for development.

The UGA programme will design a framework of legislation and non-legislative tools to support the development of high-quality, thriving, and resilient communities. Priorities include ensuring urban land is affordable, improving choices on where people live and the type of home they live in, improving their access to employment, education and services, and reducing emissions.

The UGA covers five areas (pillars). Each pillar has a goal and several targeted projects to achieve each goal:

  • 1.  Infrastructure funding and financing – aims to ensure the infrastructure communities need can be funded and supplied as and when it is required. Work underway includes assessing whether the existing targeted rates and development contributions regimes can be utilised more effectively to better recover the costs of infrastructure.
  • 2.  Urban planning – aims to improve the way communities plan for growth by reviewing planning rules and practices.
  • 3. Spatial planning – aims to improve the way central and local governments work together to develop better integrated spatial plans.
  • 4. Transport pricing – aims to improve the efficiency of road and rail transport networks through pricing strategies.
  • 5. Legislative reform – reviewing regulatory, institutional and funding systems to ensure they work together to support the other four pillars of the UGA. (Current focus is on the Government’s comprehensive review of the Resource Management Act.)

Community resilience (Updated September 2020)

Communities throughout New Zealand face a growing number of risks from natural hazards. The nature and frequency of these risks is also changing with the impacts of climate change. These risks increasingly require a combined approach from central and local government to respond effectively.

The CLGP team is leading an inter-agency approach to strengthen community resilience in the face of natural hazards and the effects of climate change. This work has been commissioned in partnership with Local Government New Zealand and involves a number of case studies where the CLGP team is working directly with Councils to manage natural hazards at Kaikōura, Matatā and Franz Josef.

The community resilience work programme involves five areas to enable communities to better invest in risk reduction and adaptation activity:

            • 1. Information to support better decision making.
            • 2. Enhanced use of risk assessment.
            • 3. Enabling better decision making in the resource management system for natural hazard risk management and adaptation to the effects of climate change. 
            • 4. Insurance markets and risk financing.
            • 5. Principles and approaches to funding and financing.

Cabinet papers and minutes:

LATEST: Cabinet paper and minute – Improving resilience to flood risk and supporting the COVID-19 recovery – July 2020 (PDF, 1.5MB)
Cabinet paper and minute – Cross-government Community Resilience Work Programme: Update on progress – November 2019 (PDF, 3MB)
Supporting a Response to Natural Hazard risk-to-life in Matatā – July 2019 (PDF, 1MB)
Facilitating adaptive responses for community resilience alongside local government – May 2019 (Proactive Releases)
Community Resilience in the face of natural hazards and climate change – December 2018 (PDF, 100KB)
Community Resilience (Minute) in the face of natural hazards and climate change – December 2018 (PDF, 120KB)

Key documents and presentations:

LATEST: NZIER report – Investment in natural hazards mitigation – August 2020  (PDF, 1.8MB)

The Department of Internal Affairs commissioned the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) to provide the report Investment in Natural Hazards Mitigation.  

A Zoom presentation was provided on 16 September 2020, with a summary of the findings along with three commentators providing their view on how this information can be used.

Local governance for community well-being

With the reintroduction of the four well-beings and commitment to a Wellbeing Budget 2019, there is an opportunity to harness local government’s strengths and proximity to its communities and explore how central and local government can align their well-being objectives, frameworks and measures. 

This programme will focus on how central and local government can and should work together to deliver intergenerational well-being, and on the future role of local governance in New Zealand in strengthening local democracy, instilling greater trust and confidence in local governance and supporting regional growth.  It will explore what settings, conditions and resources are required to support local government in this work.

Cabinet papers and minutes:

Cabinet paper and minute – Working with local government on community wellbeing – August 2019 (PDF, 2MB)
Cabinet paper - Local Governance and Community Wellbeing - November 2018 (PDF, 1.3MB)
Cabinet minute - Local Governance and Community Wellbeing - November 2018 (PDF, 632KB)

Media releases:

Wellbeing and water - a necessary conversation with Local Government (20/11/2018)

Crown/Maori relationships

A number of issues being experienced at the interface between local government and iwi/Maori, including participation in decision-making, representation, and implementation of Treaty settlement redress.  While section 4 of the Local Government Act 2002 clearly acknowledges responsibility for the Treaty obligations lies with the Crown, Parts 2 and 6 of the Act are intended to facilitate participation of Māori in local government.

Local government is charged with the responsibility to promote opportunities for Māori to contribute to its decision-making processes.  Local government also holds responsibility for the effective implementation of Treaty settlement redress.  A positive, strategic relationship between local authorities and Māori contributes to building strong prosperous regions and communities.

The CLGP team is developing a work programme intended to better support the local government and iwi/Māori relationship.


CLGP Updates:

LATEST: Central Local Government Partnerships update - December 2019 (HTML)

Other publications:

Return to Local Government Policy

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