Info: All about Local Government in New Zealand

Why local government is needed?

The need for local government is the basic recognition of the fact that not all communities are the same, nor do they have the same issues. Thus, while Parliament is elected to deal with issues relevant to New Zealand and its people as a nation, local government enables democratic decision-making by and for local communities. It makes decisions about local issues and services, having regard to local needs and priorities.

Number of councils

In all, there are 78 local authorities representing all areas of New Zealand.

These include:

  • 11 Regional Councils;

  • 12 City Councils (which are largely urban);

  • 54 District Councils; and

  • 1 Auckland Council


  • Territorial Authorities (TAs) – 67 in total : Auckland Council, as well as the city and district councils, are collectively referred to as territorial authorities

  • Unitary Authorities (UAs) – 6 in total : Six of the territorial authorities including Auckland, 1 City and 4 District Councils, also have the powers of a regional council referred to as unitary authorities.


TAs or councils can make other decisions either as a full council, or by delegating some matters to -

  • a committee of the council: either a standing committtee appointed for the term of the council, sub-committees, joint commiitee with other councils, or public boards such as the district health boards

  • a community board: unincorporated bodies, directly funded by the council, and elected at the same time as the council, a community board usually consists of five or six members (often including one or more councillors), and represent and advise councils on community views

  • a council organisation: set up by the council to undertake particular activities on its behalf or to acquire voting interests in an organisation outside the council


New Zealand has 116 regional councillors, 11 regional chairs, 707 territorial authority councillors, 149 Auckland local board members and 67 mayors. In total, the local government across the country also employs over 28,000 staff.


Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) – which represents the interests of the councils in the country says - “Local government plays an important role in New Zealand. In addition to giving citizens a say in how their communities are run, councils own a broad range of community assets worth more than $120 billion. These include 90 per cent of New Zealand's road network, the bulk of the country's water and waste water networks, and libraries, recreation and community facilities. Council expenditure is approximately $8.5 billion dollars a year, representing approximately four per cent of Gross Domestic Product and 11 per cent of all public expenditure.”

- All information in this article and infographic is courtesy