6 May 2022

A virtual tour of New Zealand's local government

We’ve recently achieved a significant milestone in the Review’s engagement programme – we completed our council roadshow, where we met with 78 councils around Aotearoa to discuss the five key shifts that we believe local government will need to make.

A virtual tour of New Zealand's local government

We originally planned for the roadshow to be kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face), but due to COVID-19 restrictions, we moved into online meetings instead. This meant we virtually travelled around the country, gathering insights from local authorities via Zoom.

What are the Five Key Shifts?

  • Strengthened Local Democracy

From low public trust and participation in local government to renewal of local democracy that builds a foundation for the future of a strengthened and inclusive local democracy

  • Stronger Focus on Wellbeing

From traditional focus on infrastructure service delivery to a focus on the complex wellbeing challenges of the 21st Century, including economic and social equity and climate change action

  • Authentic relationship with Hapū/Iwi/Māori

From relationships that are variable in understanding and commitment to an authentic relationship that enables self-determination, shared authority and prosperity

  • Genuine partnership between Central Government and Local Government

From low trust and confidence in each other to reliable partners able to deliver wellbeing outcomes locally

  • More Equitable Funding

From beneficiary-based funding principles to a funding system that equitably supports communities to thrive.


Download a PDF of the key shifts here.

What did we learn from the council roadshow?

During our discussions with council members around the motu we saw that there is true passion in local government elected members and staff across the country. Everyone wants the best for our people and places.

Some other common themes and valuable kōrero that emerged were:


  • Local government recognises the need for change. The sector appreciates that for us to be fit for the next 30 years and respond to the challenges the future will present, we need to evolve.

“It’s not about the future of the Council but about the future of great communities.” - Council roadshow participant

  • The relationship between central government and local government needs to be stronger and more of a genuine partnership.

“We don’t need to hold all the money, we don’t need to hold all the function, we need to know our communities and to systemically drive influence.” - Council roadshow participant

  • Although there has been progress in developing relationships between councils and Hapū/Iwi/Māori, there needs to be a significant investment in capacity and resources to support this.

“Governments come and go, but people in place prevail.” - Council roadshow participant

  • There needs to be more ways of funding local councils, to reduce the reliance on ratepayers.

“You can’t have good local government and cheap local government.” - Council roadshow participant


Although there were overriding themes, we found that no two councils are the same. It was interesting to see the diverse views, challenges and strengths each council brought to the discussions.

We are hugely grateful for the reflections and suggestions shared with us during the council roadshow. The insights will help shape our recommendations to the Minister of Local Government in October.