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Reforms, partnerships, climate change and future of councils all on the agenda at this year’s LGNZ Conference   

Local Government New Zealand’s annual conference gets underway in Palmerston North on Wednesday, attracting a record delegation of New Zealand’s mayors, chairs, council representatives and other stakeholders.  

LGNZ President Stuart Crosby says this year’s conference Te Wā Heke Mai: the Future, will connect over 600 of the sector’s leaders and representatives, amid once in a generation reform facing the sector.    

“Conference 2022 is our opportunity to come together and think big at a time where local government is being presented with the biggest changes the sector’s had to grapple with in over three decades.” said Mr Crosby.    

“On top of that, local government is confronted with challenges that it must deal with head on such as climate change, the Covid environment, and other long-standing issues including a lack of diversity among elected members and low voter turnout.   

“At this year’s local body election, we will see a huge turnover in elected members. So we also need to be thinking about how we attract the best people from a range of communities and backgrounds into our sector and how we support them to learn, grow and thrive.   

“These tough conversations are best had face to face.  Conference is about taking a pause from day-to-day business to think about the future. It’s a once in a year chance for the sector to come together to share knowledge and learn from each other – this opportunity is worth its weight in gold.”  

This will be Palmerston North’s biggest conference since Covid restrictions have been lifted and marks a return to form for the city’s events industry, says Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith.   

“Conferences like this one provide enormous economic and cultural benefits for our community, contributing many millions a year to the local economy.   

“We’ve seen a surge in conference bookings since restrictions on numbers have been lifted and the LGNZ Conference kicks off a string of many. Our council operated facilities alone are booked to do a year’s quota of conferences over the next five months.”   

Speakers at the conference will include elected members from both local and central government, strategists, innovators, and iwi.    

Conversations will centre around what the future holds for local democracy, opportunities the current state of reform presents, climate change and local government partnerships, says LGNZ CE Susan Freeman-Greene.   

“If we want to create a system that’s sustainable and places our communities at the centre, then these are the things we need to be talking about. Carving out the space and time for discussion is invaluable.    

“This Conference will be aspirational, but it also plays a very practical role by connecting the highest decision makers with local government. Whether you’re Auckland Council, Marlborough District Council or the Chatham Islands Council – all our members will have an equal opportunity to hear directly from Ministers, opposition spokespeople and officials about policy areas that have a direct and indirect impact on their councils and local communities.”