The Department of Internal Affairs

ngā kaunihera-a-rohe

Local Government in New Zealand - Local Councils


Councillors and Mayors


Councillors’ roles

Councillors are elected to represent their communities for three-year terms. There is no limit on the number of terms they may serve.

There is no specific job description for councillors. However, as representatives and leaders of their communities, their role involves setting policies, making regulatory decisions and reviewing council performance (through its annual report and the performance review of the chief executive).

Mayor or Regional Council Chair

Mayors, like councillors, are elected by their district for a three-year term. Mayors cannot be removed from office by the council.

As of the 2013 local authority elections, the Local Government Act 2002 defines the role of a mayor as having to provide leadership to the other elected members of the territorial authority, be a leader in the community and perform civic duties. This includes leading the development of the territorial authority's plans (including the long-term plan and the annual plan), policies and budgets.

A mayor has the following powers:

  • to appoint the deputy mayor
  • to establish committees of the territorial authority
  • to appoint the chairperson of each committee (which may be him or herself)
  • to serve as a member of each council committee

Regional councillors elect their chair from amongst themselves and can remove them from office.

The role of the regional council chair is fairly similar to that of a mayor. It is not specified in law, but there is a general expectation that chairs will provide leadership and direction to the council and community, chair council meetings, be the public voice of the council and be accountable to the community.

The respective roles of the elected members and management are defined in each council's local governance statement.

File Attachment Icon