The Department of Internal Affairs

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Local Government in New Zealand - Local Councils


Other legislation

There is a wide array of legislation under which local authorities operate. Access to this legislation is available via the Public Access to Legislation project.

There is also some additional information available about some of the key Acts affecting local authorities –

Biosecurity Act 1993

– this Act enables Pest Management Strategies (PMS) to be developed and implemented by local authorities for each of the important pests. For more information visit the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Building Act 2004

– controls the building of new houses and alterations to existing ones. This Act is administered by the Building and Housing Group within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). For more information visit the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment or the Legislation section of their website.

Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002

- updates and redefines the duties, functions, and powers of central government, local government, emergency services, lifeline utilities, and the general public. For more information visit the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

Dog Control Act 1996 and Dog Control Amendment Act 2003

– territorial authorities are responsible for dog control in their districts. For more information about the Dog Control Act 1996 and Dog Control Amendment Act 2003 visit The Department of Internal Affairs.

For information about keeping children safe around dogs, responsible dog ownership and good behaviour for dogs visit

Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987

– territorial authorities are responsible for the fencing of swimming pools. For more information see Addendum to "Guidelines for Territorial Authorities on The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987" File size 142k.

The above link is available for download as a pdf file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document, which can be downloaded for free from the Adobe site.

Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977

- is the main legislation and this sets out the powers and duties of rural fire authorities. Rural fire authorities are responsible for fire control within their defined area. There are a number of updates to this Act, including the Forest and Rural Fires Regulations 2005. For more information visit the Department of Conservation.

Gambling Act 2003

– under this Act, local authorities are charged with and enabled to control the growth of gambling and prevent and minimise the harm caused by gambling. For more information visit the Gambling section of The Department of Internal Affairs' website.

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996

- established the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA New Zealand) to assess and decide on applications to introduce hazardous substances or new organisms into New Zealand. This includes genetic modification of plants, animals and other living things in New Zealand. For more information visit the Ministry for the Environment.

Health Act 1956

- curtails the individual's rights to consent in various circumstances, most of which are related to the powers of medical officers to require notification, examination, and intervention in the case of certain infectious diseases. This Act is currently under review. For more information visit the Ministry of Health.

Land Transport Act 1998

– this Act is intended to promote safe road usage and vehicle behaviour. For more information visit NZ Transport Agency.

Land Transport Management Act 2003

– this Act is designed to contribute to the aim of achieving an integrated, safe, responsible, and sustainable land transport system. You can access the Act and it's history here.

Maritime Transport Act 1994

– under this Act safe operation of maritime activities are controlled. For more information visit Ministry of Transport.

Prostitution Law Reform Act 2003

– under this Act local authorities are enabled to regulate legal prostitution services in their local areas and promotes health and safety for workers. For more information visit the Ministry of Justice.

Public Records Act 2005

- enhances public confidence in the integrity of local authority records. For more information view A Guide to the Public Records Act by Archives New Zealand.

Public Works Act 1981 (PWA)

- empowers local authorities to acquire and maintain property that is necessary for the efficient and effective performance of their functions. For more information view the Land Information New Zealand website.

Rates Rebate Act 1973

– created the Rates Rebate Scheme to provide a subsidy to low-income homeowners based upon the cost of their rates. For more information about the Rates Rebate Act 1973 visit The Department of Internal Affairs.

Rating Valuations Act 1998

– defines rating units and the methods councils may use to determine the ratable value of properties. For more information about the Rating Valuations Act 1998 visit New Zealand Legislation.

Reserves Act 1977

- provides for the acquisition of land for reserves, and the classification and management of reserves (including leases and licences) as well as setting out the aims for the setting aside of reserves. For more information visit Department of Conservation.

Resource Management Act 1991

– for more information about resource management in New Zealand, visit the Ministry for the Environment.

Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941

The overriding purpose of the Act is to make provision for the conservation of soil resources, the prevention of damage by erosion and to make better provision for the protection of property from damage by floods. In order to achieve the Act’s purpose and objects Catchment Boards are were established under the Act. Catchment Boards are responsible for the activities in their Catchment District. For more information visit Ministry for the Environment.

Transit New Zealand Act 1989

- created the Crown Entity now known as the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). This Act requires regional councils to prepare a regional land transport strategy. For more information visit the NZTA website.

Transport Act 1962

- consolidates and amends certain enactments of the Parliament of New Zealand relating to motor vehicles, to road traffic, and to commercial transport services carried on by means of motor vehicles or harbour ferries. Amongst other things, this Act entitles councils to make Bylaws regulating traffic and parking. It was amended by the Land Transport Amendment Act 2005. For more information visit Land Transport New Zealand.