The Future for Local Government

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

On 23 April 2021 the Minister of Local Government (the Minister) established a Review into the Future for Local Government (the Review). The Review is to consider, report and make recommendations on this matter to the Minister. Please see the futureforlocalgovernment.govt.nz website for updates on 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 sector, led by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) and Taituarā - Local Government Professionals Aotearoa, is calling for a programme of work to ‘reimagine the role and function of local government’, in order to build a sustainable system that delivers enhanced wellbeing outcomes for our communities.

The overall purpose of the Review is, as a result of the cumulative changes being progressed as part of the Government’s reform agenda, 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 the Treaty partnership. 

The Minister is seeking recommendations from the Review that look 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 comprises what local government does, how it does it, and how it pays for it. The scope should include, but not be limited to, a future looking view of the following:

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

The Review will have two areas of focus

The Review’s initial focus will be 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.

This will enable scoping of the broader work to follow, including identifying the process and priority questions that will be of most benefit to furthering the outcomes outlined in these terms of reference.

The Review will then focus on answering the priority questions identified during its initial scoping work.

The Government will welcome the work of the Review but will not be pre-committed to the implementation of its findings. The Government will respond to the findings of the Review in due course.

Findings and recommendations

The Review will report to the Minister on this matter.

  • 30 September 2021: an interim report presented to the Minister signalling the probable direction of the review and key next steps;
  • 30 September 2022: Draft report and recommendations to be issued for public consultation;
  • 30 April 2023: Review presents final report to the Minister and Local Government New Zealand.

The interim report has been publicly released and is available to read at futureforlocalgovernment.govt.nz

The Terms of Reference for this Review are available here: 

You can contact the Review at futureforlg@dia.govt.nz

You can keep up to date with the Review at futureforlocalgovernment.govt.nz