Local Government in New Zealand

Key information on how Local Government works in New Zealand.

Local Government in New Zealand consists of 78 local, regional and unitary councils.

The elected members of these councils are chosen every three years by voters in their communities to represent them. The elected members employ a Chief Executive to run the everyday business of the council. The Chief Executive employs all other council managers and staff.

Councils typically meet monthly and base their decision-making on the preferences of their communities, the commitments of previous councils, central government requirements and the policy platforms they were voted in on.

Like central government, local government draws its legitimacy from Parliament and operates on the basis of an electoral mandate provided by citizens.  

The local government sector consists of:

  • 11 regional councils;

  • 61 territorial authorities – 11 are city councils and 50 are district councils; and

  • Six unitary councils – which are territorial authorities with regional council responsibilities. 

The key elected members roles are mayors, regional council chairs, councillors, local board and community board members. 

The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs membership is made up of the councils that are led by a Mayor; the territorial and unitary councils.

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Alex Walker Mayor