The Department of Internal Affairs

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Local Government in New Zealand - Local Councils


What information can I expect from my Council?

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Your council's contact details are provided on its main profile page, available from:

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Councils are obliged to ensure their committees have ready access to information on their activities, decision-making process, and opportunity to be involved.

Consultation processes

Those who wish to participate in council consultation processes need to be informed of the issues being considered, the decisions being made, and the processes around them. Councils are required to make information on their decisions, plans, finances and strategies accessible to their communities. They must –

  • Provide you with an easy-to-understand summary of their proposals and plans.
  • Identify if you are to be affected by a decision, encourage you to make your views known to the council and provide you with reasons for their decisions.
  • Establish and carefully assess all options for dealing with an issue.

Most councils include copies of proposals currently out for consultation on their website, or they are available from the council offices. Find your council profile page for contact details.

Special consultative procedure

Councils must use the special consultative procedure (SCP) set out in the Local Government Act 2002 when making certain decisions. These are set out in section 83 of the Act but generally have high significance to the community, and may have major implications (such as financial).

Steps in an SCP are a minimum requirement and councils may expand on these. Councils must prepare a statement of proposal setting out the issue or decision to be made. The community must be made aware of the issue and how they can make submissions on it. All submissions must be acknowledged in writing and every submitter must be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard, if requested.

Councils may also chose to use SCPs at times other than those required in the Act.

Pre-election report

Leading up to elections, the chief executive of a local authority must prepare a pre-election report. The purpose of a pre-election report is to provide information to promote public discussion about the issues facing the local authority. It provides details on the financial performance and position of the council for the three years prior to the election; financial plans and projects for the next three years; and statements comparing rates, rates increases, borrowing, and returns on investments with the limits and targets set in the financial strategy.

Local governance statements

All local authorities have to prepare a local governance statement at the beginning of a new council term. This includes information on –

  • Council powers including those specific to that council.
  • The current electoral system and how it can be changed.
  • Current wards or constituencies, and how to change those – including the option of setting up Māori wards or constituencies.
  • Members’ roles and the sub-council governance structures that have been adopted – including committees etc.
  • Consultation policies.
  • Policies for liaising with Māori.
  • Management structure.
  • Processes for meeting, accessing the council and its members, and accessing official information.
  • Approved planning and policy documents.

Local governance statements are publicly available from all councils, and many councils have them on their website.

Official information

Unless there is a good reason for withholding information, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA) requires that official information must be made available on request.

Councils can withhold official information if certain circumstances apply. This may include if making the information available would be likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences, and the right to a fair trial, to endangering the safety of any person.

Find out more information on the Act.

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