Alongside the central government that looks after issues affecting the whole country, New Zealand also has a local government system which promotes social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being at the community level.
Regional and territorial
There are two levels of local government - regional councils and territorial authorities (city and district councils).
Regional councils are responsible for managing resources, biosecurity control, river management, flood control, controlling land erosion, regional land transport planning and civil defence in the event of an emergency.
District and city councils are responsible for community well-being and development, environmental health and safety, infrastructure, recreation and culture, and resource management.
There are 12 city councils, 54 district councils, an Auckland council and 11 regional councils. One city council, four district councils and Auckland also have the powers of the regional councils: they are sometimes called ‘unitary authorities’. Many councils also have elected community or local boards.
Community level democracy
Regional and territorial councillors and mayors are all elected in local government elections that are held every three years. Local government elections are held on the same day across the country, but they are not combined with general elections for Parliament.
Anyone registered as a parliamentary elector can vote in local government elections. Voting is usually by postal ballot.
The website of Local Government New Zealand has more information.