News & Media » Frontpage News – December 2014

Frontpage News – December 2014

Published: 2 December 2014

News type: National news   

WEB NZ China Mayoral Forum Agreement Ceremony 3

China President Xi Jinping and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key look on as China People’s Association for Friendliness with Foreign Countries President Li Xiaolin and LGNZ President Lawrence Yule recognise the Agreement of the inaugural New Zealand China Mayoral Forum

LGNZ forges stronger links with China 

The inaugural New Zealand China Mayoral Forum was held in Auckland on 21 November, the first of a regular exchange between mayors and governors from the two countries, expected to increase engagement and create significant economic benefits throughout New Zealand.

As part of his official visit to New Zealand, China President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister John Key met with local government leaders, Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) President Lawrence Yule and President of China People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) Li Xiaolin.

Following the Forum, President Xi, Prime Minister Key, Mr Yule and Madame Li participated in a ceremony acknowledging a new Agreement to establish better connections between New Zealand and the more than 600 cities and provinces in China.

Mr Yule says it would be difficult to understate China’s importance to our economy, usurping Australia last year as our largest trading partner.

“China is our biggest trading partner and as such our relationship with them is extremely important to our economy. This Forum and Agreement provides a platform for regions, towns and cities across New Zealand to strengthen trade, economic, investment and cultural links with China,” Mr Yule says.

“Currently New Zealand faces uneven economic growth with some regions growing faster and attracting population more than others.  This agreement is a significant step to effectively building a level of sub-national engagement between the two countries that supports our regional development policy.”

Mr Yule says, “Over the next 10 years China’s outbound investment is projected to exceed US$1.25 trillion. We want to ensure that New Zealand, and most importantly our regions, attract some of this investment.” 

WEB NZ China Mayoral Forum Group photo

Back row, left to right: China Party Secretary of Municipal Committee of the CPC of Zhangye City Chen Keqong, Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin, Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, Xiamen Mayor Liu Keqing, Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby, Lanzhou Vice Mayor He Xiangdong, Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker

Front row, left to right: Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, China Party Secretary of CPC Guiyang Municipal Committee Chen Gang, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, China People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries President Li Xiaolin, China President Xi Jinping, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Local Government New Zealand President Lawrence Yule, Wuhan Mayor Tang Liangzhi, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown

Chinese mayors have indicated they are most interested in New Zealand opportunities in agriculture, tourism, technology and education.

Several cities have hosted successful mayoral delegations to China in recent years that have resulted in business deals for companies in those regions.  Mayors hold very high status in China and they consider New Zealand mayors as key leaders with an important political role in creating trade and investment opportunities.  The office of mayor opens doors in China. It’s a validation and gives Chinese businesspeople trusted confidence.  Business leaders have reported that travelling with a New Zealand mayoral delegation was beneficial to their success in China.

Rotorua focussed on relationships with mutual economic opportunities in China

Rotorua’s Mayor Steve Chadwick says it is focussed on relationships with Chinese cities around mutual economic opportunities. 

“Rotorua has well-established economic links with China in a number of areas, especially around tourism and tertiary education for international students. These can be reinforced by cultural programmes, such as travelling exhibitions for museums and art galleries, that expose each city’s culture and heritage to its counterpart’s citizens,” Mayor Chadwick says.

“We also see untapped potential for Rotorua to work with China around spa and wellness opportunities based on our city’s hot springs attributes, and our goal to become the South Pacific’s premier spa and wellness destination. Timber and wood processing is another area of potential, as is the chance to share our substantial successes in lake water quality improvement.”

Rotorua has worked with Nanjing in China where there is a satellite township development called ‘Rotorua Town’.  In 2007, the upmarket residential settlement for 5000 people was launched.  It includes replicas of iconic public buildings and landscapes.  Chinese families purchasing new homes in the town receive tickets for a holiday in New Zealand’s Rotorua as part of their purchase arrangements, which Mayor Chadwick says has brought hundreds of affluent Chinese visitors so far.

“Another example is our links with the Confucius Institute that sees more than 20 Chinese teachers brought to Rotorua schools every year to help introduce Chinese Mandarin into the community. This initiative helps strengthen relationships and build understanding between people of our two countries, and has the potential to support future business opportunities and cultural partnerships,” Mayor Chadwick says.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon says local government gets great mana from China links

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon attended the inaugural New Zealand China Mayoral Forum, which he says gives local government in New Zealand great mana to continue with closer relationships with China.

“In Gisborne, we are seeing investment from Chinese firms, investing in Gisborne and the East Coast.  We have seen an export honey house set up by a Chinese business person at Matawhero, he is collecting manuka honey from growers and exporting it to China.  Earnslaw One [softwood plantation company] is exporting logs to our sister city Rizhao in China, Nobilo and Wrights organic wines are selling in China, our beef and lamb on the shelves in supermarkets like Sam’s Club in Beijing and Guangzhou.  Our early golden and green Kiwifruit are in the high end supermarkets in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.  Ngati Porou crayfish is being sold in China and Hong Kong,” Mayor Foon says.

There is room for further opportunities between Gisborne and China, he says, with Iwi keen to explore opportunities of trade and investment and land available for purchase for development to grow fruit that appeals to that market such as persimmons and kiwifruit.

Strong links between Auckland and China

Mayor Len Brown says Auckland has strong relationships with China, from its three sister city partnerships with Guangzhou, Ningbo and Qingdao, to the social, cultural and economic relationships between 118,000 Aucklanders of Chinese-heritage and their friends, families and hometowns in China.

Nearly 20,000 Chinese students and more than 210,000 Chinese tourists are welcomed to Auckland every year, and increasing numbers of Chinese companies are opening offices in Auckland, or investing in important Auckland infrastructure and key industry sectors.

“Auckland looks forward to building even stronger civic, cultural, educational and economic links with China. Stronger local government relations with China help facilitate deeper connections between Auckland and China and provide opportunities for trade and investment activity, tourism, and student enrolment in Auckland’s world-class tertiary institutions,” Mayor Brown says.

“Despite our difference in size, New Zealand and China are both key nations in the Asia-Pacific region. China is one of our most important trading partners, and we enjoy close cultural and community ties.  Stronger local government relations with China help facilitate deeper connections between New Zealand and China and provide opportunities for trade and investment activity.”

Whangarei's warm and mutually beneficial relationship with Chinese city Haikou

Mayor of Whangarei, Sheryl Mai, says it has a warm and mutually beneficial relationship with its Chinese ‘Friendly City’, Haikou. In June this year, Whangarei was privileged to host a delegation from Haikou, and to sign a Friendly City agreement with them.

“Initially, our discussions will focus on international education .... In the years to come, contact between our two cities will become more regular as we communicate and consult on issues that benefit us both, and work to develop and stimulate business activity, investment and economic development opportunities,” Mayor Mai says.

“We will also be looking for opportunities to actively participate in key international event held by the other city with the aim of sharing experiences and facilitating co-operation.”

More specifically, Whangarei is also seeing a lot of interest from Chinese investors in aquaculture, agriculture and data centres. Council and its partner organisations such as Northland Inc, the Whangarei Economic Development Group and Ruakaka Economic Development Group, are actively encouraging this interest and offering support to interested parties, where possible.

Whangarei partner organisation Northland Inc’s Chief Executive David Wilson says that from Whangarei’s perspective, its challenge is to ensure it has “investment ready” propositions, and to provide the opportunity for local enterprises to partner and invest in economic development propositions themselves.

“Northland-wide, the biggest Chinese investment in the region is the Peppers Carrington Resort which sits at the heart of a large, luxury estate on the Karikari Peninsula. This is a huge investment, but not within Whangarei boundaries,” Mr Wilson says.

“Engagement, to date, shows that Chinese investors are willing to partner and often have established channels to market for Northland products and services. However, having an investment-ready proposition is the key for Whangarei so that we can move from generalisations about key sectors to actual investments.”

Since the 2008 signing of the free trade agreement with China, New Zealand exports have risen from NZ$2.3 billion to NZ$6.7 billion.  The deepening of relationships that this agreement brings opens the door for further trade and investment between the two countries.

There is also huge potential for investment here.  Financial liberalisation could result in substantial flows of Chinese funds into other asset classes in a wide range of destinations, including New Zealand.  China’s outbound investment is growing and will exceed US$1.25 trillion over the next 10 years.

“We’re committed to building strong economies and vibrant communities across New Zealand. Having an Agreement with one of the world’s most powerful economies is a significant step to supporting our regional development policy and complements central government’s role to increase regional economic growth across of all of New Zealand.”


Mark Butcher, LGFA Chief Executive, on local government finances

Web Mark ButcherThe local government sector is in a strong financial position as seen with recent strong council credit ratings and an increase in overseas investor interest in LGFA bonds, says Local Government Funding Agency Chief Executive Mark Butcher. 

There are now 18 councils that have an external credit rating from Standard & Poor or Fitch.  While Standard & Poor haven’t finished publishing their annual reviews of all councils that they review, from those released so far all ratings are unchanged except for Western Bay of Plenty District Council which was upgraded. 

“You can see from the agency ratings that they largely see the financial performance of the sector as stable,” Mr Butcher says.

LGFA’s own credit rating has been reaffirmed by both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch as the same as the Government’s, at AA+. However Fitch placed the LGFA credit rating on positive outlook, in line with the outlook on the Governments rating.

“From the recent annual reports of councils, we have seen financial covenants improve.  The financial situation of the sector has strengthened but there are still some challenges and issues to be faced going forward.  The sector cannot rest because this is a dynamic and changing environment but I think there is now a greater awareness in the sector about financial issues.”

There has been a recent trend among council borrowers for longer term debt, which Mr Butcher says is prudent because of the long-dated assets that are common among councils such as intergenerational infrastructure like wastewater plants and below ground infrastructure. 

Councils will for the first time produce 30 year infrastructure strategies as part of the 2015-25 Long Term Plans which will be available in early 2015.

“These will result in a better long term fiscal strategy, and should assist with debt strategies for future.  The sector is really thinking a lot more about finances, affordability, prioritisation and better management of their assets.  For some, these strategies will be a really positive step in the right direction.”

The Local Government (Financial Reporting and Prudence) Regulations 2014 have helped to focus councils more on fiscal prudence and reporting, Mr Butcher says.

“Staff have always been focused on fiscal prudence and reporting but the regulations have helped elevate the focus for elected members and the public. We don’t however want these to be seen for comparison across councils or league table purposes but it’s important to get financial prudence positioning elevated, which this goes some way towards.”  

LGFA has seen an increase in overseas investors buying its bonds.  Of the $4.4 billion of debt it has on issue, around 20 per cent or $800 million is sourced from offshore investors.  Mr Butcher says it gives the sector credibility.

“That offshore investors are now thinking about lending to the New Zealand local government sector, when they have lots of opportunities globally to invest across many sectors and geographies is really positive for New Zealand.  It hadn’t been an option for global investors before the creation of LGFA.”

Every month, LGFA is seeing offshore investment in the sector increase from investors in Japan, the United States, Europe and Australia.  Most are long term investors from central banks and large investment institutions.

“That really helps because it further reduces the sectors reliance on domestic investors and banks for borrowing.  The other important factor is that offshore investors tend to lend money long term and longer dated borrowing is more prudent for the sector.   There are other entities around the world similar to LGFA and New Zealand councils competing for these global investors’ money, so it is positive for us.”

Mr Butcher and the team at LGFA are now looking to the future, awaiting the release of the Long Term Plans that councils are currently working on to gain a clear picture of councils' positions.


Youth identify existing and emerging opportunities and challenges for the regions


The next generation of New Zealanders believes that when it comes to regional areas, regional and national goals lack visionary leadership.  McGuinness Institute organised LocalNZ, where 35 individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 participated in a workshop to build connected between youth in regions to councils.

The youngsters spent two days at the A Place to Live conference in Wanganui then spent a day at Treasury exploring the economic issues that face New Zealand and its local regions.

They worked together to develop recommendations for local and central government around three themes, about existing and emerging opportunities and challenges for the regions.

Recommendations for each theme

Theme one: Quality of life

  • Introduce creative information flows between local and central government.
    Central government has the tools while local government has the knowledge. Tension between levels of government is a distraction to creating better quality of life. Economic policy is created in Wellington and given to New Zealand’s wildly dissimilar regions. We need the connection between regional ideas and central policy tools to be as seamless as possible. 
  • Give local governments the ability to generate revenue and expenditure.
    Pressures from central government upon regional expenditure need to be relaxed, and the task of revenue generation needs to be given to local government. Fresh thinking about how local government generates its revenue and matches it is expenditure is needed. 
  • Tailor the education system for regions.
    The education system needs to meet the unique nature of regions so it can contribute to a better quality of life. This will also help youth learn the skills that are needed within their particular region. 
  • Develop a deeper understanding of nature in order to have a healthy economy.
    Economic activity that can be sustained into the future is dependent on a positive relationship between our society and the natural world. All economic and social activity is based on the ecological functions provided by healthy and dynamic ecosystems. We need to prioritise scientific research that will give our society the knowledge it needs to value and protect these ecosystems effectively. 

Theme two: There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution

  • Embrace the differences between regions and the unique qualities each regions has to offer. 
  • Central government should work harder to support and enable local government.
    This can be achieved by:
    • Aligning policy between central and local government.
    • Enabling local communities to focus on what their local priorities are.
    • Sharing or divesting more responsibilities to local governments.
    • Further support for regional decision-makers. This could include introducing training and development programmes for local councillors.
    • Better collaboration between local and regional councils, for both mayors and councillors.
    • Providing sufficient resources to enable local government to deliver on their responsibilities and obligations.

Theme three: Visionary Leadership

  • Visionary leadership is needed to benefit the regions, both in central and local government. 
  • Build stronger relationships between central and local government through integrity, trust and mutual respect.
    We must focus on being continually supportive of each other, taking the time to ensure all voices are heard. This means building relationships between local councils across New Zealand, between central government and local councils, and between both of these and local communities. It involves establishing better bottom-up, grassroots communication to work alongside the top-down communication from central government. Specific recommendations which relate to this point are:
    • A requirement of MPs to report on council meetings.
    • A requirement of MPs to attend a quota of council meetings annually.
    • A requirement that councils consult with the relevant youth council upon request.
    • The establishment of a youth council association.
    • Set a minimum full-time remuneration package for councillors where the pay does not currently allow them to work full time.
    • Providing better constitutional protections for local and regional councils in the implementation of all of these recommendations. 
The need for the mokopuna clause

‘Mokopuna’ means grandchildren, and the clause is about making decisions for our descendants. It is about long-term visions and selflessly sacrificing our gluttony for the generations to come.  This clause is about recognising that decisions do not just affect our generations but could affect, and will affect, the generations we may not even talk to. It is about planning; it is about visionary, inclusive leadership; and it is about selfless sacrifice.


Libraries Aotearoa – equity for enquiring Minds


Public libraries have always been about ensuring equitable access to information.  However, if you speak to any kiwi on the street their interpretation of a library is books (and often dusty books) and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Library and Information Association of New Zealand (LIANZA) realised that to protect libraries for future generations, they needed to change that perception. 

Currently library usage in New Zealand sits at just over 52 per cent of the population, with a satisfaction rating of 85 per cent  (Kiwi Counts Survey March 2014).  While books are still an integral part of what libraries offer, as the modes of information delivery change, the services that libraries offer have been evolving too.  LIANZA wanted to create an attitudinal shift to libraries and librarians, positioning them as an essential component in the future development of New Zealand society.

Cue Libraries Aotearoa – in order to change the perception of the decision makers libraries needed a cohesive and powerful brand that incorporated the massive diversity that is the library and information sector in New Zealand.  

In partnership with Auckland-based design agency BRR and led by LIANZA member and previous LIANZA president Vye Perrone, the journey began to create a brand. 

“There was huge scepticism that we could deliver a single brand that was embraced by all 6,194 librarians in New Zealand.  The cynics scoffed, especially as it had been tried before, both here and abroad with no success,” LIANZA Executive Director Joanna Matthew says.

“In fact our research showed us that no matter how strong the message about libraries and how compelling the research, decision makers just weren’t listening. But we’re hopeful we could get them to pay attention.  Underpinned by eight key values that epitomise the sector, and clearly display its competitive advantage, the brand Libraries Aotearoa now has the support of the library and information sector in New Zealand.  It’s no longer a branding exercise!  It’s a living breathing entity.”

Libraries Aotearoa represents all New Zealand’s libraries.  From school to academic, from public to specialist, they are one powerful network, able to guide our country on its journey towards knowledge. 

Libraries Aotearoa values are:

  • Simplifying complexity – we specialise in navigating through the ever increasing information world;
  • Continually adaptable – our platform of services, tools, and resources are continually adapting to meet changing needs;
  • Cultivating relationships – we build the trust needed to develop lasting relationships;
  • Lifelong learning – we have the capacity to touch people at every point in their life, being there for communities as they grow;
  • By communities, for communities – every library in New Zealand is driven by the needs of the community it belongs to;
  • Fair and just – our services are open and accessible to all with no hidden agenda;
  • Ideas through conversation – we believe personalised communication leads to unexpected inspiration; and
  • Enriching information – We provide context to support sound decision making.

“Our next steps are two fold.  Firstly we plan to roll out community engagement toolkits to help us capture the incredible impact libraries are having on their communities and to help libraries do even better.  We also have an engaging above the line campaign underway that we hope to begin delivering in mid-2015,” Ms Matthew says. 

“But this brand isn’t LIANZA’s – it is owned by the profession and we have made the design and branding elements available to the New Zealand Library and Information sector to embrace, use, and develop.  We’re also excited by interest from across the ditch, as our equivalent body in Australia is also looking to take this forward.” 

For more information on Libraries Aotearoa please get in touch with Joanna Matthew.


Significant issues for NZ in Environment Commissioner's report

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has recognised findings of Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright’s report released today on the impact of rising seas as significant for coastal areas of New Zealand, aligning well with work the sector is undertaking.

 The independent report, ‘Changing climate and rising seas: Understanding the science’ sends strong signals to both central and local government that this is a big issue for New Zealand.  It shows that sea levels have risen by 20 centimetres over the last hundred years and a further rise of 30 centimetres is inevitable by 2050. 

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says unless we take these issues seriously, there will be significant ramifications for coastal areas of New Zealand.

“If New Zealand does not take action, communities will continue to be impacted.  There needs to be a shared national approach to tackle issues of climate change and sea level rise that can be implemented at a national, regional and local level,” Mr Yule says.

“We see a need for a serious bi-partisan discussion on the management of natural hazards including sea level rises, flood mapping and coastal hazards.” 

LGNZ says the report also aligns well with recent work local government has undertaken to address the impact of natural hazards. 

“It highlights similar themes to local government’s work, including that the risk damage from natural hazards is likely to increase, and the vulnerability and degree of loss that can be expected from natural hazards is high in New Zealand because we are a small economy,” Mr Yule says.

The think piece LGNZ released in October, ‘Managing natural hazard risk in New Zealand – Towards more resilient communities’, has pinpointed the need for a national framework  to address the need to apply effort across the continuum from hazard mitigation to adaptation, and across the four ‘Rs’ – from risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery aspects.

It shows there is a need for issue and place-specific responses to natural hazards, and integration and collaboration to develop and deliver effective responses across the many players.  

The Parliamentary Commissioner’s work also aligns with LGNZ’s current review of the local government insurance market which recommends that councils more actively embrace, understand and manage assets and risk including spending more resources on risk profiling, risk management and risk mitigation to improve self-reliance and resilience. 


LGNZ supports identifying solutions for housing affordability

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) supports identifying solutions to address housing affordability and as part of this, welcomes the Productivity Commission’s new issues paper ‘Using Land for Housing.'

The Issues Paper raises some important questions.  It is the first step in the Commission’s latest inquiry looking at the by-laws, processes and practices of local planning and development systems for residential land within New Zealand’s fastest growing urban areas.

It seeks answers to a wide range of questions that the sector will consider.  These include how current land planning systems can be made to better benefit cities and how local authorities assess demand for and supply of land.

Local government has a role to play in housing affordability by processing building and subdivision consents, zoning land for development and setting densities for building.  However, other factors are also highly influential such as when the private sector sells land and the cost of building materials. 

“This inquiry will help to identify best practice processes for the local government sector, which is good news for everyone.  LGNZ wants to see affordable housing be accessible to all communities,” LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says.

“While housing affordability has macro-economic impacts across all of New Zealand, it is not a widespread problem.  Our research has found most councils do not have a shortage of available land zoned for development.  Housing affordability is a multi-faceted issue that will require a mix of interventions to correct it.”

The Productivity Commission issues paper highlights the need to reform planning processes and rules, which is a priority for the local government sector.  Local government is currently working with central government on speeding up building consenting and wants to work with central government on the development of effective policies around the Resource Management Act.

LGNZ is seeking central government and the business sector work together with local government and communities to address housing affordability.

The local government sector looks forward to being involved in the Productivity Commission’s inquiry as key participants.


Councils help communities have safe happy summers


Local government supports summer festivities so that New Zealand communities have safe, happy holidays. 

Councils around the country hold public events, festivals, parades and other celebratory events during the Christmas season. Some decorate town centres while others help to put on food and wine festivals, throw a Santa parade or support sporting events such as beach volleyball held in public places. 

“Summer is a special time for New Zealanders. People enjoy spending extra time with their families, and getting out and about in nice weather to enjoy our great outdoors and beautiful beaches,” LGNZ Vice President Brendan Duffy says. 

Public swimming pools are maintained by councils, giving communities a safe place to enjoy swimming and spending time in the water. The opening hours for many pools will change during summer. 

Local government provides reading material and literary events all year round. People wanting to pick up beach reading material can contact their local council to check opening hours of libraries over the summer period for any changes and statutory holidays closures. 

Councils help communities enjoy the seaside safely by providing support around activities at our beautiful beaches. More people will be populating our beaches during the warmer season, so the hours and locations dogs can play near the ocean may change during summer. 

Local government is responsible for coastal management.  District councils oversee safety around the use of vehicles on beaches that is mindful of protecting our environment. 

“Councils are here to help communities. Contact your local council to see what public events will be held during summer and if you would like any support around a number of activities including camping, fires, beaches, alcohol and DIY,” Mr Duffy says.  

Please view further details of how councils help communities have safe, happy holidays below:

Planning ahead for events with alcohol;

How councils help get summer DIY sorted;

Have a safe camping holiday with help from local government; and

Stay safe when setting fires during summer.



Transport - Funding Assistance Rates

NZ Transport Agency has completed its Funding Assistance Rates (FAR) review and informed councils of its decisions. 

In May, the Transport Agency made many key decisions on the FAR review, including FAR principles and the FAR Framework.  The minimum rate was initially set at 52 per cent, but post further consideration has been lowered to 51 per cent (two percentage points below the overall National Land Transport Fund co-investment rate of 53 per cent), with a maximum rate of 75 per cent (and 85 per cent for Chatham Island). 

LGNZ acknowledges the Transport Agency’s positive engagement with councils across New Zealand during the consultation process, and welcomes the clarity this announcement brings on the available share of funding for local roads.  We also acknowledge the bigger issue is the funding that will be made available under the Government's Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding expected to be announced soon.  Updated FAR review information is available on the NZTA website here.  


Transport – One Network Road Classification

NZ Transport Agency’s One Network Road Classification (ONRC) has now come into force. The classification involves categorising roads based on the functions they perform as part of an integrated national network, to get ideal service levels and investment for each category. 

The system aims to help local government and the Transport Agency to plan, invest in, maintain and operate the road network in a more strategic, consistent and affordable way throughout the country. Taken together with the ONRC, the customer levels of service and performance measures will enable councils and the Transport Agency to share best practice to optimise the investment in the network.


LGNZ Local Government Funding Review

The LGNZ Local Government Funding Review draft consultation paper is currently being finalised by the Working Group.  This is expected to be released in coming weeks.  The Local Government Funding Review was established in June 2014, to review the future adequacy of existing funding sources available to local government.  If you have any enquiries, please contact LGNZ Principal Regulatory Advisor Thomas Simonson


Local wins


Gigatown win set to strengthen Dunedin’s economy

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has congratulated Dunedin for winning the year long Gigatown competition and sees this as a significant boost for the region.

After a lot of hard work and community buy-in, five passionate towns – Dunedin, Gisborne, Nelson, Timaru and Wanaka – made up the finalists for this competition and have competed to win points across five different challenges.

Dunedin has come out on top to win Gigatown and will now help lead the charge in New Zealand's transformation to becoming a gig-savvy nation.  The prize sees the council receive access to a 1 Gigabit per second internet connection at the price you’d expect to pay for entry level broadband at 100Mbps.

As well as this, Dunedin will get a $200,000 fund provided by Chorus and Alcatel Lucent's ng Connect that will support entrepreneurs and innovators taking new services to market over the gigabit fibre connection in Gigatown.  It will also receive a $500,000 community fund provided by Chorus that organisations in the Gigatown community can apply to kick start community related developments that showcase how gigabit infrastructure and UFB can be activated for social good.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule said the economic benefits Dunedin will receive will be a huge benefit to the town and congratulates Mayor Dave Cull and Dunedin City Council Chief Executive Sue Bidrose on their success.

“The win gives Dunedin the opportunity to take digital technology to the next level within the community and it will open doors for local business at home and abroad, and for those wishing to set up business in the region.”

“How Dunedin leverages the opportunities from the win will be a major focus for the Dunedin City Council and LGNZ looks forward to seeing the benefits to share best practice around the country,” says Mr Yule.


Wellington City Council wins sustainable business award

The Wellington City Council has won the Renewables Innovation Award at the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards in Auckland last week.

In their 12th year, the NZI National Sustainable Business Network (SBN) Awards are New Zealand’s longest-standing and pre-eminent sustainability awards. They are designed to recognise businesses that are making a real difference by innovating and inspiring New Zealand’s business landscape.

Wellington City Council won the award for the Smart Energy Challenge, which invited social entrepreneurs to come up with community-led projects to help households and businesses save energy and to switch to smart energy. The Challenge was co-designed with Enspiral and PledgeMe, and supported by Generation Zero, Deloitte, Kiwibank, NZ Post and the Sustainability Trust.

Three community-led teams entered the challenge:

  • Aro Solar – a project to install solar PV panels on Aro Valley Community Centre;
  • Solair – a project to test a solar heater on social housing; and 
  • Shyft – a Wellington car-sharing start-up.

The teams learned entrepreneurial and business skills to help refine and eventually implement their ideas. The teams raised money through the crowd funding platform PledgeMe, with the council matching their crowd-funding efforts dollar for dollar.

The judges liked that the initiative has a public/private funding model, which is ground-breaking in its approach to provide funding and encourages a generation of new ideas and collaborative solutions to move towards a low carbon future.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says, “well done Wellington City Council for winning the Renewables Innovation award at SBN Awards – a Smart Energy Initiative that’s making a real difference.

The Council’s Portfolio Leader for Climate Change, David Lee, says he’s excited about the next round of social entrepreneurs coming through for the Smart Energy Challenge 2015.

“Our thriving social enterprise community and supportive business sector creates an ecosystem that is a gold mine of talent and innovation.”

The full results of winners for the 2014 National Sustainable Business Network Awards can be found here


Mayor John Forbes awarded prestigious leadership award

The Opotiki District Council were very proud to announce their Mayor, John Forbes, was awarded the prestigious Leadership Award at the Bay of Plenty Horizon Business Excellence Awards earlier in November. 

The Sun FM Leadership Award is a special award recognising the outstanding contributions of an individual in the district to the wider business and/or community.

The council said they had a lot to smile about as their local business OPAC also came away with the Toi EDA Economic Development award as well. 

Opotiki also congratulated their fellow council, Whatakatane District Council, on their win in the customer service category. 


Coming up

Survive and Thrive 2014 – Wellington, 5 December

The 2014 Rotary Forum topic for 2014 is “Survive and Thrive in NGO-land”, looking at the challenges facing NGOs and some new governance responses. 

Non-government organisations (NGOs) have a huge impact on our lifestyle and environment. They deliver substantial social, health, economic and environmental benefits in most communities and countries. The Forum will bring together people with insights from significant Wellington and New Zealand NGOs, including some of those where Rotary has had a significant influence.  Click here for more information.


Community Development Conference 2015 – Auckland, 18-20 February 2015

Come and celebrate the rebirth of a transformative discipline. Unitec has been active in community development for over 25 years, and we will begin 2015 with a dynamic conference for practitioners, academics and students.

Major themes include placemaking, community economic development, diverse communities and re-claiming democracy, with quality assured papers, poster presentations and practical skills workshops.

The conference will showcase community development training opportunities and initiatives. It will also celebrate the launch of Whanake, the Pacific Journal of Community Development and Social Enterprise.  Click here for more information.


Discount for LGNZ members on Philanthropy Summit 2015

Are you involved with distributing grants and funding to community organisations?

Philanthropy New Zealand is offering LGNZ members a discount on the cost of attending its biennial conference, being held in Auckland on 15 & 16 April next year.

The Philanthropy Summit 2015: The Power of Strategic Giving, will provide grantmakers with a chance to find out about the latest trends in strategic giving and wise investment. It will focus on three key issues: income and inequality; youth and employment, and the environment. Keynote speakers include New York entrepreneur and impact investor Justin Rockefeller, and US philanthropic leaders Peter Hero and Mae Hong, as well as eminent New Zealanders Dame Anne Salmond, Tā Mark Solomon and Mānuka Henare.

LGNZ members can attend the Summit for the same price as members of Philanthropy New Zealand – just enter the ID code LGNZ when you register, then choose Government Organisation.

To find out more and to register go to the Philanthropy Summit 2015 website.


New Zealand Community Boards Conference – Bay of Islands, 14-16 May 2015

The 2015 New Zealand Community Boards Conference will take place in Waitangi, Bay of Islands.  The theme of the conference is "influencing change", with great speakers, a range of informative workshops and an entertaining social programme.  Click here for more information.


In the media

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon says endorsement gives NZ China Mayoral Forum mana

Endorsement of mayoral forum by Prime Minister John Key and China President Xi Jinping gives the forum relationship the highest mana, says Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon.


Door opening between China and NZ regions

Dunedin is a glowing example as agreement between local governments in China and New Zealand paves the way for regional growth, writes the president of Local Government New Zealand, Lawrence Yule.


Handshake puts province on China map

A  handshake between the mayor of Hastings and the Chinese President has helped seal a stronger New Zealand-China business pact 33 years after Hastings entered the first sister city relationship involving the two countries.

Christchurch mayor welcomes Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report

"This is a very timely report as it will help coastal communities prepare for the inescapable rise in sea levels and the expected increased frequency and severity of storm events due to climate change," Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says.

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