This independent review is an opportunity to find new approaches to local governance that create the conditions for communities to prosper and thrive

Why review local governance?

Current local governance structures and systems were designed many years ago, and are now facing considerable pressure.

Since the 1989 reorganisation of local government and the 2002 Local Government Act, local government has become much more complex and demanding, having been dealt increasingly more responsibilities with little increase in funding or capability.

Further, planned resource management and three water reforms, if implemented as signalled, will also call into question the broader functions and roles of local government and have implications for local governance and wellbeing.

Over the next 30 years, local governments around Aotearoa will face new challenges and may need to change their role and functions.

The impacts of climate change; relationships between local government, iwi, hapū and Māori; and reforms of resource management, water infrastructure, health and education will all have implications for local governance in the future.

Ineffective local governance can create or exacerbate challenges. Effective local governance can create the conditions in which communities prosper and thrive.

This is an opportunity to consider how local democracy and governance might need to develop in order to maximise wellbeing and prosperity for all.

What are we reviewing?

The Review is considering

  • The functions, roles, and structures of local government
  • Relationships between local government, central government, iwi, Māori, businesses, communities and other organisations
  • Necessary changes for local government to most effectively reflect and respond to their communities
  • The embodiment of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • Funding arrangements for local government

What are our priority questions?

We are actively seeking out engagement with communities and organisations across Aotearoa to answer the following questions:

Question 1

How should the system of local governance be reshaped so it can adapt to future challenges and enable communities to thrive?

Question 2

What are the future functions, roles and essential features of New Zealand’s system of local government?

Question 3

How might a system of local governance embody authentic partnership under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, creating conditions for shared prosperity and wellbeing?

Question 4

What needs to change so local government and its leaders can best reflect and respond to the communities they serve?

Question 5

What should change in local governance funding and financing to ensure viability and sustainability, fairness and equity, and maximum wellbeing?

For more details, check out our terms of reference.

A three stage review

The review is taking place in three stages, and will involve engagement with local and central government, iwi, the business sector, community organisations, young people, and the wider public. The three stages are:

Early soundings 2021 (Complete)

This first stage has involved initial scoping and early engagement with local government and other organisations to help us take a future-focused look at the local governance system and identify key issues and lines of inquiry. This interim report reflects the results of that work, and signals our broad lines of inquiry for the next stage.

Broader engagement 2021—2022

Stage 2 of our review will involve broader public engagement about the future of local governance and democracy in New Zealand, alongside research and policy development. After completing this work, we will report to the Minister of Local Government with draft findings and recommendations. Under our terms of reference, that report is due late 2022. We welcome all submissions and feedback through until 30 June 2022 for consideration into the draft report.

Formal consultation and final report 2022—2023

The third stage will involve formal consultation about our draft recommendations. We will consider public submissions, before we deliver our final report in April 2023.

About the Panel

The Review Panel members were selected through the Cabinet appointment process. Careful consideration was given to the range of background and experience, including Te Ao Māori perspectives, strong connections with the community, knowledge of local government issues, and urban and rural representation.

The Panel will ensure local and central government, iwi, the business sector, community organisations, young people, and the wider public all have the opportunity engage with the review before presenting the draft report to the Minister in 2022.

Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer
Chair

Penny Hulse

Penny Hulse

Antoine Coffin

Antoine Coffin

Gael  Surgenor

Gael Surgenor

Brendan Boyle

Brendan Boyle

All Panel members have completed a declaration of interest and a criminal convictions check. Those with identified perceived or actual conflicts of interest have a plan to manage that conflict of interest.

For more details, check out our conflict of interest policy.