He aha ā mātou mahi What we do

An overview of the roles and functions of the Local Government Commission

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.

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

For a full description of all the Commission's duties and functions under particular statutes see the Appendix.

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.

Give 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, if considered appropriate, 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 22C, to review local authority-led reorganisation applications;
  • Under Schedule 3, Clause 53, to be an arbiter on 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 Amentities 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.

Musuem 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.

Water Services Entities Act 2022

Schedule 4 of this Act gives the Commission several responsibilities in respect of proposals by a water services entity to sell or divest an interest in water services on significant infrastructure, and polls on such proposal. These responsibilities include notifying the proposal and preparing balanced information about the proposal, determining the date of the poll, designating the electoral officer to run the poll and deciding whether advertising relating to the proposal by water services entities and local authorities is neutral.