Home » About local government in NZ Glossary of terms

Glossary of terms

community board

An elected body that represents and advocates for a defined geographic community within a district or city. It can have input into council decisions relating to that community and may have particular powers and functions, including some decision-making, delegated to it by the council.

A community board cannot levy rates, make bylaws, buy property, borrow money, sell assets or hire or fire staff.
Community boards can be established at any time, but may only be abolished as part of a council’s regular representation review carried out before local authority elections.

At present 110 community boards operate in urban and rural areas of territorial authorities across New Zealand.
A community board has between four and 12 members. It must have at least four elected members and may have appointed members being councillors from the area. A community board must have a majority of elected members.


Has two definitions under the Local Government Act 2002. It can mean the area within a city or district where a community board has been established with a population of at least 1500 people. Alternatively, it may have a more general meaning in relation to, for example, statutory responsibilities on a council to consult the community, in which case it means the whole district of that local authority.


The geographic area over which a district council or city council has authority.


A person entitled under law to vote at a local authority election or poll. That person may be either a residential elector (being also a qualified parliamentary elector who has resided in the area for at least one month) or a ratepayer elector (being a person on the local authority ratepayer roll as a non-resident owner of a property in the area concerned or a nominee of an organisation paying rates on that property).

local board

An elected body that shares decision-making responsibility, for a defined geographic area within a territorial authority district, with the governing body (mayor and councillors) of that territorial authority. The territorial authority must also be a unitary authority. The decision-making responsibilities are for non-regulatory matters allocated to it. A local board may also undertake decision-making for any responsibilities delegated by the governing body.

Like a community board, a local board cannot levy rates, make bylaws, buy property, borrow money, sell assets or hire or fire staff.

Local boards currently exist only in Auckland.

Local boards can only be established, altered or disestablished by way of the statutory reorganisation process.

A local board has between five and 12 members. It must have at least five elected members and may have appointed members being councillors from the area. A local board must have a majority of elected members.


A small area defined by Statistics New Zealand for collecting census data about the local population. Meshblocks are also used to prepare electoral rolls for local and parliamentary elections and to define local authority boundaries.

Order in Council

A document signed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Executive Council (Government Ministers). It can, for example, provide the legal authority to implement a local government reorganisation plan or reorganisation implementation scheme. Orders in Council are published in the New Zealand Gazette.

regional council

A local authority with jurisdiction over a region. Its main functions are natural resource management, land use planning and environmental matters. Functions may also include public transport, regional reserves and bulk water supply. Its boundaries are based on water catchments, such as rivers, lakes and harbours. The seaward boundary is the twelve mile (19.3km) New Zealand territorial limit. A regional council is headed by a chairperson, who is a councillor elected by fellow councillors. It can have between six and fourteen elected members.

territorial authority

A city council or district council. A territorial authority provides localised services such as drinking water, sewerage and rubbish disposal, roads, community facilities, building control and public health inspections. A territorial authority is headed by a mayor, elected at large in the area. It can have between six and thirty elected members including the mayor.

unitary authority

A territorial authority which also has the responsibilities, powers and duties of a regional council.