By Janet Holborow, Deputy Mayor, Kāpiti Coast District
On Friday Local Government
Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced a review of Local
Government in New Zealand, and the appointment of a panel to
be chaired by Jim Palmer to to start working towards a
reform of the sector.
As Mayors, Councillors, MPs and
community representatives gathered at the Dowse Museum,
there was a sense of a historic occasion, a turning point in
the way we we think about democracy in Aotearoa New
The setting was appropriate, outside the
doors of Nuku Tewhatewha. Recognised as one of Te Awa
Kairangi’s greatest treasures, this Pataka built in 1856
has become a symbol of a shared vision and the value of
partnership. The way forward announced by Minister Mahuta at
the steps of Nuku Tewhatewha repesents the first real
shake-up of Local Government since 1989, and a pathway with
enormous potential to change and enhance how we look after
the well-being of our communities.
Resource Management Reform and The National Policy Statement
on Urban Development have arguably necessitated a
conversation about the purpose of Local Government, and this
was acknowledged by Mahuta. This review will look at how the
system needs to evolve long-term, over decades not years.
It’s not a review about what’s wrong with Local
Government, more about what we need to get right across all
levels of governance.
A panel has been appointed,
which is tasked with engaging with the sector, iwi,
communities, and stakeholders to map out how the future will
look. What can we achieve if we think differently? How can
we best deliver the change that’s needed to address the
huge challenges facing us over the coming decades?
attempted amalgamation of Wellington some years ago was an
example of the structure coming before the purpose. Rather
than asking how councils should look, we need to start with
asking what we need to achieve for our people and our
communities. How can we work cohesively to improve our
communities, our environment, our infrastructure and our
Crucial to this will be the quality of early
engagement. I hope that the panel are well enough resourced
to really dig into what’s important to people, what are
our challenges, what are our priorities, and how we can best
address all of that across our diverse communities.
have the opportunity for a kind of conversation which is
meaningful, profound and significant. It’s important that
we enter this conversation with an open mind as we
re-imagine how Local Government can be integral to a
democracy and governance which addresses our environmental,
social and economic challenges. Newly appointed Chair Jim
Palmer described this as a once in a life-time opportunity.