The government established the Review into the Future for Local Government in April this year. The review is mainly in response to Local Government New Zealand and Taituarā – Local Government Professionals Aotearoa calling for a programme of work to ‘reimagine the role and function of local government’ to build a sustainable system that delivers enhanced community wellbeing outcomes.

The review is relevant since the overhaul of the three waters sector and the resource management system reform are foremost among a suite of reform programmes that will reshape our system of local government.

The review’s overall purpose is to identify how our system of local democracy and governance needs to evolve over the next 30 years to improve the wellbeing of New Zealand communities and the environment, and actively embody the Treaty of Waitangi partnership. The review’s long-term focus means it will look to relevant reports such as those from the Productivity Commission but not limit itself to these.

Work has been ongoing in the background, with the group engaging with key stakeholders. Infrastructure New Zealand met with officials a couple of weeks ago. Key topics we raised were governance matters, whether mayoral powers need to be extended, funding and financing, the remit of council-controlled organisations, and future proposals around council amalgamations.

The review will consider, report and make recommendations on this matter to the Minister of Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.

An interim report will be presented to the minister by the end of next month (30 September) signalling the probable direction of the review and key next steps.

Substantive work will then be undertaken on answering the priority questions identified during the initial scoping work. A draft report containing recommendations will be issued for public consultation by 30 September 2022.

The final report will be presented to Minister Mahuta by 30 April 2023. Given the review’s timeline, the review will likely feature in future editions of InfraRead.