25 Mar 2022

By CKL Planning Manager (Tauranga) Mark Batchelor

Rafts of legislative change and resulting structural changes to provincial governance are occurring in New Zealand. These include significant changes to how natural and physical resources are managed and who manages them, with local government structures a part of that. The outcome proposed is the regionalisation and centralisation of planning and regulatory functions and the reduction or loss of local community functions. This began a year ago by use of the RMA national policy statement regime.

The objective can be generally described as improving access to and efficiency of funding, efficiencies in services supply according to need and removing duplication.

The changes indicate the Government has identified the significant issues affecting New Zealand’s ability to adapt and advance, or otherwise holding the nation back are those extending across regions. The solution has been identified as requiring regionally focused integration.

The changes can be distilled into the following points:

  • District Council regulatory functions relocated to regional format of local government.
  • Minimisation or loss of local community (District Council) responsibility and authority.
  • Central Government control of opportunity to establish local community representation (Local Boards).
  • Local community representation limited to Local Boards, any delegated functions and operating in an advocacy capacity.
  • Significant services infrastructure and resources moving to national or multi-regional purpose-built authorities.
  • Encouraging multi-regional cooperation and integration.
  • Increased emphasis on Top-Down. National and regional policy and standards replacing local policy and standards affecting local matters.
  • Increased recognition and implementation of Treaty responsibilities. Placed within Government structures.

The question arising: Will local community voices and values continue to be heard and represented?

Local Government Reform: Move from Localism to Regionalism and Central DirectionLocal Government Reform: Move from Localism to Regionalism and Central Direction