The Department of Internal Affairs

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Local Government in New Zealand - Local Councils


Local Government Sector Profile

See also...

Statistics for individual councils see:

Local government promotes the well-being of local communities.

There are 78 local authorities comprising 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities (unitary authorities, city and district councils).

Additionally, many territorial authorities also have one or more Community Boards. These boards are filled largely by election, though territorial authorities have the right to appoint a minority of the members, to help represent and advise council on community views.

Local authorities vary considerably in size. At the previous Census of Population and Dwellings (March 2013) the largest regional council was Environment Canterbury (population 539,433), the smallest was West Coast Regional (population 32,148). Territorial and unitary authorities ranged from 1,415,550 (Auckland) to 600 (Chatham Islands). The average population for territorial authorities was 63,313, but this was skewed by several very large councils. The median population for territorial authorities was 30,096.

Key financial statistics 2018

New Zealand Local Authorities$ (thousands)
Public Equity 123,568,227
Operating Revenue 9,879,372
Operating Expenditure 10,292,961
Capital Expenditure 4,887,998
Rates Revenue 5,815,327

Source: Local Authority Financial Statistics, Statistics New Zealand

The financial profile pages contains more detailed information.

Membership, Elections and Governance

Regional councils, territorial and unitary authorities are all made up of elected members.

Regional councillors elect regional council chairpersons from their own ranks at their first meeting after elections. City and district council mayors are elected by public votes for mayoral candidates in local authority elections.

Local elections are held once every three years, on the second Saturday in October. The next election is on Saturday, 12 October 2019.

The 2016 election statistics are available at the Department of Internal Affairs website.

  • All local authorities, with the exception of Hutt City Council in 1992, have used postal voting since the 1989 election
  • The average voter turnout at the 2016 local authority elections was 43 percent
  • The highest turnout in a local authority in 2016 was 72 percent (Chatham Islands) and the lowest was 34 percent (Hamilton City)
  • Thirteen (19%) of the 67 Mayors elected in 2016 were female.
  • Local authorities are largely free to set their own meeting schedules, governance structures and the like. Many councils operate one or more council committees to consider particular issues before being heard by the full council. Most councils operate on either a monthly or six-weekly meeting schedule of committee meetings.

    Dog Control Statistics

    Dog control focuses on increasing public safety around dogs. At the same time, the right and ability of people to enjoy owning dogs is protected.

    While no law can stop all dog attacks, the law encourages responsible dog ownership and provides councils with dog control enforcement powers and tools.

    The key dog control tools are registration of all dogs over three months old, microchipping all newly registered and nuisance dogs and the National Dog Database. Together they help councils to enforce owner responsibilities, keep track of problem dogs and enable an owner and their lost or stolen dog to be reunited.

    The dog control profile pages contain statistics about dog control in New Zealand.

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