The Future for Local Government

Review into the Future for Local Government - Te Arotake i te Anamata mō Ngā Kaunihera

The Review’s final report, He piki tūranga, he piki kōtuku, was released in June 2023.
Read it here: Final report, He piki tūranga, he piki kōtuku (PDF, 17MB)

On 23 April 2021 the Minister of Local Government (the Minister) established a Review into the Future for Local Government (the Review). 

Purpose and scope

The traditional roles and functions of local government are in the process of changing. The work programmes the Government is advancing to overhaul the three waters sector and the resource management system are foremost among a suite of reform programmes that will reshape our system of local government.  

The overall purpose of the Review was to identify how our system of local democracy and governance needs to evolve over the next 30 years, to improve the wellbeing of New Zealand communities and the environment, and actively embody Treaty partnership. 

The Minister asked for recommendations from the Review to achieve:

  • a resilient and sustainable local government system that is fit for purpose and has the flexibility and incentives to adapt to the future needs of local communities;
  • public trust/confidence in local authorities and the local regulatory system that leads to strong leadership; 
  • effective partnerships between mana whenua, and central and local government in order to better provide for the social, environmental, cultural, and economic wellbeing of communities; and
  • a local government system that actively embodies the Treaty partnership, through the role and representation of iwi/Māori in local government, and seeks to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and its principles through its functions and processes.

The scope of this matter comprised what local government does, how it does it, and how it pays for it. The scope included:

  • roles, functions and partnerships;
  • representation and governance; and
  • funding and financing.

The Review focused on two areas

The Review initially focused on how local government will be a key contributor to the wellbeing and prosperity of New Zealand and an essential connection to communities in the governance of New Zealand in the future. Through this work, the Review identified five key shifts for the future for local government.

1. Strengthened local democracy – from low public trust and participation in local governance to citizens participating in local decision-making; councils being trusted and reflecting community diversity.

2. Authentic relationship with hapū/iwi and Māori – from variable relationships between councils and hapū/iwi/Māori to strong, authentic relationships between councils and hapū/iwi/Māori that enable self-determination and shared authority.

3. Stronger focus on wellbeing – from councils often narrowly focused on delivering services and infrastructure to councils focusing on holistic strategies to improve the wellbeing of their communities.

4. Genuine partnership between local and central government – from low trust between local and central government to genuine partnership to co-invest in and deliver wellbeing outcomes for communities.

5. More equitable funding – from an over-burdened and constrained funding system to an equitably funded system that enables communities to thrive.

The Review then focused on ideas and reforms that would make these key shifts possible.

The Government is not pre-committed to the implementation of the Review’s findings. Substantial consideration of the Review’s final report will be undertaken as part of the work of the next Administration.

Findings and recommendations

Over the course of its work, the Review reported to the Minister and published three reports.

  • 30 September 2021: The interim report, Ārewa ake te Kaupapa, was  presented to the Minister to signal the probable direction of the Review and key next steps.

  • 28 October 2022: The draft report, He mata whāriki, he matawhānui, was published and public submissions were invited

  • 28 February 2023: The public submissions period on the draft report closed. Published submissions are available to read on the submissions portal: Submissions to the Review into the Future for Local Government

  • 16 June 2023: The Review presented its final report, He piki tūranga, he piki kōtuku, to the Minister and Local Government New Zealand.