The New Zealand Government has announced an independent review of local government which will explore how councils can maintain and improve the wellbeing of residents in the communities they serve.
Announcing the review today, NZ Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta says it will focus on how the system of local democracy needs to evolve over the next 30 years.
“Local government plays an important role in our democratic system, giving people a voice in the leadership of their communities and in the governance of services and publicly owned assets,” Minister Mahuta said.
“Local councils are essential to maintaining and improving our wellbeing and we need to get the right settings for them to continue delivering their important mahi,” she said.
“They are now facing a wave of reforms that will significantly affect their traditional roles and functions. They have told us the timing is right to determine what our system of local democracy should look like to make sure it is fit for the future, and I agree.
“This also offers an important opportunity to explore how we can embody the Treaty partnership through the role and representation of iwi/Māori in local government.
“I have asked the review panel to consider what local government does, how it does it, and how it pays for it. From there, they will explore what local government’s future looks like, including:
- roles, functions and partnerships;
- representation and governance;
- funding and financing.
The Minister said she was expecting the review panel to report back to her on their findings in April 2023.
Cabinet has confirmed Jim Palmer as Chair of the review panel, who will be joined by four members: John Ombler QSO, Antoine Coffin, Gael Surgenor and Penny Hulse.
“I am confident the Review’s panel members have the right mix of professional and cultural backgrounds. They bring a wealth of complementary specialist skills and experience to deliver this important work,” Ms Mahuta says.
The panel members will be engaging with a broad range of stakeholders including iwi/Māori, other stakeholders impacted by changes in local government, the public including diverse communities, and local and central government representatives.
The Review will start engaging with the sector from May 2021. It will issue an interim report on the probable direction of the Review in September 2021. This will be followed by a draft report for public consultation in September 2022, and a final report in April 2023.
The Terms of Reference can be found on the DIA website here www.dia.govt.nz/Future-for-Local-Government-Review