Jim Palmer, the Chair of the Review into the Future for Local Government, took delegates through the Review’s recently released draft report. Jim was clear from the start that the Review was not the future ‘of’ local government – there is no question that local government will have an important role in the future. The Review will attempt to renew our vision and rethink local government’s role and how to deliver it.  

During the presentation, Jim Palmer summarised some of the key aspects of the draft report, including:  

  • the potential for new institutional arrangements to support a change in partnership between central and local government
  • the need for a new approach to funding community priorities
  • streamlined long-term plan and rating processes
  • and the introduction of an intergenerational climate change fund.

Jim invited submissions on the report’s recommendations and questions. Submissions close on Tuesday 28 February 2023.

The Honourable Anne Tolley, Mayor Paula Southgate, Mayor Glen Lewers and Mayor Tory Whanau discussed the outlook for local government. The local government leaders outlined the need for greater alignment between housing and transport planning, particularly from central government.
Anne Tolley described the challenges Tauranga has faced with this lack of integration and coordinated investment from central government.  

There was an agreed frustration from the panel in regard to the many ‘siloed’ central government funds and a lack of funding certainty. It was noted that each of these funds have different administration bodies, criteria, and ultimately results in local authorities having to compete with each other, rather than working together across boundaries.

Building on the local focus, Sir Peter Gluckman reflected on the role of Auckland in the future of New Zealand and in the context of a changing climate. He drew on Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures’ Reimagining Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland: harnessing the region’s potential report to highlight a handful of ‘intergenerational possibilities’ for Auckland and to illustrate the central role of long-term thinking to the region’s future success.

These intergenerational possibilities included versions of Auckland as a:

  • socially cohesive region – with a focus on how we create amenities and environments that celebrate diversity as an asset for Auckland
  • an education region – where tertiary education institutions are better integrated with the community, and speciality training hubs are invested in, especially in lower socio-economic regions
  • an innovative economy – Sir Peter reiterated Professor Clark’s earlier point that cities are innovation hubs and that investment in them needs to be considered in terms of investment in innovative potential
  • region with more human focussed infrastructure, transport and housing – with greater attention on the potential of digital technology in this space
  • a region of integrated precincts, which would have a huge impact on transport flows
    and as a national park city.

To deliver on these possibilities, Sir Peter emphasised the need for alignment between Auckland Council and central agencies. He suggested that the city needs a strong caucus of Auckland-based members of Parliament and a singular planning agency that would be co-owned by central government and local agencies, as well as a digital twin.

Further, he recommended a greater focus on citizen engagement through participatory democratic processes, the establishment of a commissioner for future generations as well as a generally improved focus on long-term thinking and planning, and rangatahi groups on local councils to support an intergenerational focus.