Future for Local Government

A review of the role and function of local government initiated in April 2021 by the Minister of Local Government. We're working through understanding what it means for our local communities and how we provide the services they need. 

What's our position so far?

In September 2021, the independent Ministerial review panel released its interim report  (Ārewa ake te Kaupapa) setting out out the broad direction and priority questions for the review in order to support engagement about the future of local governance and democracy. This was also accompanied by supporting materials and commentary from LGNZ and Taituarā.

So far we don't have a formal position, nor are we expecting to land on one until into early 2022 when the panel will be engaging further and more directly with local government. In the meantime, our team has started reviewing the document and will be working through it with elected members to understand better what this early insight may mean for QLDC and its communities. 


  • The timeline for the review has been given as:

    • 30 September 2021
      Interim report presented to the Minister signalling the probable direction of the review and key next steps.
    • 30 September 2022
      Draft report and recommendations to be issued for public consultation.
    • 30 April 2023
      Review presents final report to the Minister and Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ). 
  • The report sets out the review’s broad direction and involved initial scoping and early engagement to enable a future-focused review of the local governance system. It also identifies priority questions and lines of inquiry. The key themes from the engagement are as follows: 

    • The current system of local government is under pressure with significant funding and capacity issues for many, and onerous compliance requirements. 
    • The relationship between local and central government needs work to build trust, so both can maximise their contributions to local wellbeing.
    • Current arrangements place too many consultation and engagement demands on iwi and Māori without improving Māori wellbeing. 
    • Current arrangements do not ensure that diverse communities are adequately represented or involved in decision-making. As a result, local authority decisions do not effectively represent all community interests. 
    • Current approaches to local governance are not fully meeting business sector needs, or effectively fostering innovation at a local level.
    • Any reforms should build on existing and inherent strengths, including local knowledge and the place-making role of local authorities. 
    • One size does not fit all – any new local authority structures should be tailored to meet the needs of diverse communities and circumstances. 
    • In a reshaped system of local governance, iwi and local authorities can be stronger partners – by working together at local and iwi rohe levels they can boost shared prosperity and wellbeing. 
    • New approaches to funding and financing mechanisms will be needed to ensure local authorities are viable and sustainable, and to improve equity. 
    • Changes to representation and electoral arrangements should be considered in order to strengthen local democracy, decision making, and leadership.
    1. How should the system of local governance be reshaped so it can adapt to future challenges and enable communities to thrive?
    2. What are the future functions, roles and essential features of New Zealand’s system of local government?
    3. How might a system of local governance embody authentic partnership under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, creating conditions for shared prosperity and wellbeing?
    4. What needs to change so local government and its leaders can best reflect and respond to the communities they serve? 
    5. What should change in local governance funding and financing to ensure viability and sustainability, fairness and equity, and maximum wellbeing?
  • The next stage of the review will involve a broader public engagement about the future of local governance and democracy in New Zealand, alongside research and policy development. In the coming months, the panel has committed to engaging with communities and organisations around the country about these priority questions as it considers the future system of local governance. 

    Information and opportunities to engage are available on the dedicated website: futureforlocalgovernment.govt.nz

    After completing that work, the Panel will report to the Minister of Local Government with draft findings and recommendations. Under their terms of reference, that report is due to the Minister by 30 September 2022.