Alongside the central government that looks after issues affecting the whole country, New Zealand also has a local government system that promotes social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being at the community level.
Levels of local government
There are two levels of local government - regional councils and territorial authorities (district and city councils).
- Regional councils are primarily responsible for environmental resource management, flood control, air and water quality, pest control, and, in specific cases, public transport, regional parks and bulk water supply.
- Territorial authorities are responsible for a wide range of local services, including roads, water reticulation, sewerage and refuse collection, libraries, parks, recreation services, local regulations, community and economic development, and town planning.
Sometimes, city and district councils combine to create a unitary council.
In November 2018, we had 78 councils:
- 11 regional councils
- 61 territorial authorities (50 district councils and 11 city councils)
- 6 unitary councils.
Councils must consult with their community when making decisions. They usually meet monthly.
Councils are governed by the Local Government Act 2002.
Community level democracy
Regional and territorial councillors and mayors are elected in local government elections every three years. Many councils also have elected community or local boards.
- Local government elections are held on the same day across the country. They are not combined with general elections for Parliament.
- Anyone registered as a parliamentary elector can vote in local government elections. Voting is usually by postal ballot.
The website of Local Government New Zealand has more information.