He aha ā mātou mahi What we do
What is the Local Government Commission?
Te Mana Kāwanatanga ā Rohe | The Local Government Commission is an independent body established under the Local Government Act 2002. Its members are appointed by the Minister of Local Government. The Commission's roles and functions are also set out in legislation.
What does the Commission do?
Good local government
The Local Government Commission has a general role of promoting good local government in New Zealand.
In part, this is achieved by the functions of:
- Providing information about local government
- Promoting good practice relating to a local authority or to local government generally
The Commission may at its own discretion, or as directed by the Minister of Local Government, consider, report on, and make recommendations to the Minister and any relevant local authority on particular matters relating to a local authority or local government.
Consider and determine
The Commission also has specific functions to consider and determine with the main ones being:
- Appeals and objections against final local authority representation review proposals and proposals that are non-compliant with the statutory fair representation requirements (the '+/- 10% rule')
- Initiatives or requests for an investigation relating to reorganisation of local government, including union of local authorities, constitution of new local authorities, boundary alterations and transfers of responsibility between local authorities
- Requests by a district council to become a city council (this requires the area to have a population of 50,000 or more, to be predominantly urban, and to be a distinct entity and major centre of activity for the area)
- Appeals against a territorial authority decision not to constitute communities and community boards
- Disputes between local boards and governing bodies of unitary authorities about the allocation of decision-making responsibilities to local boards and decisions relating to local board bylaw proposals
Commission decisions do not require the Minister of Local Government's approval before being implemented, but some may require Orders in Council to be implemented. Commission decisions can be appealed to the High Court on a point of law, and the Commission's work may be subject to judicial review.
The Commission has the powers of the district court in conducting and maintaining order at any meeting or hearing it presides over. It also has the powers of a commission of inquiry.
The Commission is subject to the Official Information Act 1982. However, information relating to particular Commission work and investigations is not official information for the purposes of the Act until that work or investigation is complete. The Commission is also a public office for the purposes of the Public Records Act 2005.
For a full description of all the Commission's duties and functions under particular statutes see the Appendix of this page.
The Chairperson of the Commission is also a non-voting member of the Representation Commission, which meets every five years to adjust the boundaries of parliamentary electorates following the Census.
What the Commission does not do
As democratically elected bodies, local authorities are accountable to their communities for their performance, including meeting specific statutory responsibilities. However, certain government agencies have particular oversight responsibilities relating to local authorities or particular local authority functions.
Given these arrangements, the Local Government Commission does not have involvement in or responsibility for such things as:
- Administering local authority elections, including the conduct of candidates or electoral staff, or the policing of candidates' election expenditure
- Regulating council meetings including agendas, standing orders or member conduct
- Enforcing council bylaws
- The setting of local authority rates
- Resolving employment disputes affecting council staff
- Investigating complaints about inappropriate spending, alleged fraud, or illegal behaviour
- The handling of requests for the release of official council information
Local Government Act 2002
Under this Act, the Commission has a number of responsibilities. These are:
- Under Section 16(7), to provide advice to the Minister of Local Government when a local authority has sought a binding ruling from the Minister on significant new activities proposed by a regional council;
- Under Section 26, to amend reorganisation plans and reorganisation implementation schemes;
- Under Section 27, to consider and determine applications from territorial authorities wishing to be called a city council or a district council;
- Under Section 30, to provide information about local government and to promote good practice relating to a local authority or local government generally;
- Under Section 31, of its own volition or at the request of the Minister of Local Government, to report on, and make recommendations to the Minister and any relevant local authority on matters relating to a local authority or local government;
- Under Sections 48R and 48S, to determine certain disputes between the governing body of unitary authorities (outside Auckland) and local boards;
- Under Schedule 3, to undertake reorganisation investigations following the receipt of reorganisation initiatives and reorganisation requests;
- Under Schedule 3, clause 22B, to review local authority-led reorganisation applications;
- Under Schedule 3, clause 31, to consider for rulings that material published by a local authority complies with clause 31(1);
- Under Schedule 3, clause 41, to prepare and issue reorganisation implementation schemes;
- Under Schedule 3, clause 53, to decide the apportionment of assets and liabilities between local authorities following implementation of a reorganisation scheme, where there is disagreement;
- Under Schedule 6, to consider and determine appeals where a territorial authority declines a request from a group of electors for the constitute of a community.
Local Government Act 1974
Section 517T of this Act provides that the Commission must hear and determine objections regarding proposals for the transfer of ownership and administration of local authority land drainage and water race schemes.
Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009
Section 98 of this Act provides for the Commission to determine certain disputes between the Auckland Council's governing body and local boards.
Local Electoral Act 2001
Under this Act the Commission has four responsibilities:
- Under Section 19R, to consider and determine appeals and objections relating to a local authority's representation proposals for the next triennial local elections;
- Under Section 19V, to consider decisions of local authorities to not comply with the fair representation requirement of Section 19V(2);
- Under Sections 19JA and 19JB to make minor alterations to the boundaries of electoral areas; and
- Under Section 19ZI, to issue guidelines identifying factors and considerations for local authorities to take into account when undertaking their representation reviews.
Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act 2008
Section 29 of this Act provides that if the Auckland Council does not approve a levy recommended by the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board, and the Council and Board cannot agree on an arbitrator, the Commission must appoint an arbitrator.
Electoral Act 1993
Section 28 of this Act provides that the Chairperson of the Local Government Commission is to be a non-voting member of the Representation Commission.
Museum of Transport and Technology Act 2000
Section 20(10) of this Act provides that where the Museum Board and the Museum's Electoral College cannot agree on an arbitrator to determine the amount of the Museum's levy, the arbitrator is to be appointed by the Local Government Commission.
Port Companies Act 1988
Section 2A of this Act provides that the Commission may determine any matter where a regional council and a territorial authority are unable to reach agreement in respect of any function, power, duty, property, right or undertaking of a former harbour board transferred to them.
Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012
Sections 304, 337 and 363 of this Act empower the Commission to review the boundaries of licensing trust districts and wards, and of community trusts, to ensure they conform with the boundaries of meshblocks.