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Frontpage News - April 2016

Local funding for tourism infrastructure

New Zealand’s regions are experiencing unprecedented tourism growth.  While this is good news for our communities’ regional economic development, increased tourism traffic intensifies the burden placed on local infrastructure.

LGNZ supports tourism but with the country facing something of a perfect storm – increasing numbers of baby boomers retiring on fixed incomes, aging infrastructure in need of replacement, and heavy overseas tourism promotion aimed to increase international visitor numbers to 4.5 million a year by 2025 – New Zealand’s regions need more funding tools to meet this changing environment.

LGNZ’s advocacy activity around innovative regional funding options via our Local Government Funding Review 10-point plan, along with Mackenzie District Mayor Claire Barlow’s public call for taxpayers to shoulder infrastructure costs to support tourism, and Queenstown Lakes District Council’s work on a visitor levy proposal for the Government’s consideration appear to be gaining traction. 

A recent report in the Sunday Star Times, Budget boost for tourism’s $140M rates burdenhints at the potential for increased central government support for regional tourism in the new fiscal year. 

The report states “A government cash boost may be on its way to Kiwi communities struggling under a $140m tax burden from tourism promotion and infrastructure costs”.

LGNZ​ chief executive Malcolm Alexander said "It's good to see the government waking up on this.  Infrastructure is fiendishly expensive. We're looking for a revenue stream in addition to rates so the burden doesn't fall on ratepayers.”

"It's not their job to support a national industry," said Mr Alexander.

Please see Workstreams section for more on the Local Government Funding Review 10-point plan advocacy work currently underway.

LGNZ’s Vote2016 campaign now live

LGNZ’s Vote2016 elections campaign encourages more Kiwis to get involved in the Local Authority Elections this October.

The Vote2016 webpage is now live.  It houses background information about the campaign and our research, and offers tools and resources for candidates, voters, partners and media.

The campaign’s initial aim is to start a conversation about the issues that matter to New Zealanders, both at a national and local level, at the same time growing residents’ understanding of the breadth of services delivered each day by local governments across New Zealand, and the impact those services have on their everyday lives.

Starting a conversation about the issues that are important for our communities and the types of candidates they would like representing them will hopefully encourage New Zealanders to get more involved in the local government process.

“Citizens can get involved by voting for their preferred candidate this October, and maybe even deciding to stand as a candidate themselves,” says Mr Yule.

This conversation will take place mainly on digital and social media, with supporting regional and local PR stories.  For more information please visit the Vote2016 campaign page and like us on Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation using the hashtag #Vote16NZ.

LGNZ’s Vote2016 campaign has been developed to:

  • Phase 1: Expand engagement with our communities on the visible, tangible services that matter most to communities (January through October);
  • Phase 2: Encourage citizens with strong leadership qualities and a passion for their community to consider standing as candidates (January through July); and
  • Phase 3: Lift voter numbers above 50 per cent nationally for the first time since 1998 (July through October).

Wilding conifers a national issue

LGNZ is standing behind the concerted national approach underway between local and central government and other stakeholders to tackle the relentless spread of invasive wilding conifers threatening both the environment and the economy. 

Chair of LGNZ’s Regional Sector, Stephen Woodhead, said the wilding conifer issue is now so severe that New Zealand cannot not afford any further delay in its concerted effort to tackle the pest.

“We have reached a tipping point for wilding conifer control,” says Mr Woodhead.

Wilding conifers are an invasive pest tree affecting landscapes and pastoral productivity across New Zealand. They are advancing exponentially — establishing dense stands around some of our most iconic tourist destinations, on farmland and on Crown land, and threatening our economy and environment on a number of levels.

Recent figures estimate nearly 500,000 hectares of wilding conifers across the North Island, more than 1500ha of which are in the Gisborne region and have a high risk of spreading. While the issue is not yet as devastatingly serious as in Marlborough, Canterbury, Southland and Otago, lessons can be learned before the situation worsens.

Significant infestations of wilding conifers have also taken hold at Waiouru and at Tongariro — New Zealand’s oldest national park with UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Both sites have an extreme risk of spreading. Wilding conifers are even causing issues for the NZ Army at the military training grounds at Waiouru and they now have a management programme in place with the Department of Conservation.

There is support from the Government to address this problem, and a national strategy is in place. But we also need better awareness about the scale of this problem nationally.

LGNZ hopes that through approaching this threat in a co-ordinated way we can make progress and get the traction needed to stop and reverse the spread of wilding species.

Please visit the media section for more coverage on wilding pines.

LGNZ Conference and EXCELLENCE Awards 2016

The theme of LGNZ's 2016 Conference is place making – creating places where people love to live, work and play.  We have strong ambitions for local government and we are working with our members to raise the value of what our sector can deliver for New Zealand's communities.  

The Conference is the one chance each year for all councils to be in the same room at the same time and the three day conference seeks to take full advantage of this opportunity.  It is a chance for local government to showcase its ideas and discuss the new initiatives to make these happen.  There will be a strong focus on leading change and building places for tomorrow where families and businesses can prosper.

Over the coming months leading up to July’s Conference we will highlight some of our keynote and masterclass speakers.

Greg Doone

In Tomorrow's places: our communities in 2050 PwC Director Greg Doone will provide a future vision on New Zealand's communities, taking a look at demographic, social, technological, economic and environmental trends. Greg will delve into the issues New Zealand is likely to face going forward, as well as highlight some of the challenges local government will need to consider as we lead our communities of the future.

Dame Margaret Bazley

In Collaboration and organisation:  a regional approach to place making, Canterbury and Waikato regions will describe their stories of collaboration and how their approaches are aiding "place-making" for their regions and providing a platform for regional economic development.  Speakers include Dame Margaret Bazley, who has long experience as a senior public servant and has extensive knowledge of the machinery of government. She has many years of experience in health, transport, social services and delivering services to Maori. She has held the positions of Acting Chief Executive of the Department of Work and Income, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Policy, Director-General of Social Welfare, Secretary for Transport, and Deputy Chairperson of the State Services Commission.

Jeb Brugmann

In Building resilient places, Jeb Brugmann, Founder of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability - and Managing Partner of The Next Practice innovation consultancy, will take an over-arching look at resilience and how we can build strong towns, cities and regions of the future.  He will offer thought leadership around how resilience can be approached as a planning and design element to support ambitions for place making and development in high performing towns and cities, offering guidance on how the sector can better prepare our communities to tackle climate change and a full spectrum of other risks and opportunities.

The 2016 LGNZ Conference will take place at the Dunedin Centre from 24 - 26 July 2016.

For more information visit LGNZ’s Conference website.


Local Government Excellence Programme

In December last year, LGNZ signalled a new Local Government Excellence Programme, designed to improve the public’s knowledge of the work councils are doing in their communities and to support individual councils to further improve the value they provide to all New Zealanders.

This concerted work programme is of national and local importance and we firmly believe in working with central government, business and communities to improve local democracy and the value of infrastructure and services we deliver every day, to every New Zealander.

The framework for the Programme has been developed, pilot testing with councils and public focus groups is complete (led by Colmar Brunton) and LGNZ is currently holding roadshows with councils across the country to test the Programme’s measures.  Resulting feedback will be considered and further Programme refinement will be made, where applicable.

The four proposed priorities of the Programme are:

  • Excellence in governance, leadership and strategy;
  • Excellence and transparency in financial decision-making
  • High standards of asset management and infrastructure; and
  • Stronger engagement with the public and businesses.

Proposed RMA changes and LGNZ’s fit-for-purpose resource management regime

In concert with Simpson Grierson, LGNZ recently completed its analysis of and submission on behalf of the sector on the proposed changes to the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.  LGNZ’s submission is available here.

While LGNZ welcomes a comprehensive review of the 25 year-old Resource Management Act, in line with its initial discussion document A ‘blue skies’ discussion about New Zealand’s resource management system LGNZ is calling for a more fundamental review of what a fit-for-purpose resource management regime should look like for New Zealanders. 

LGNZ’s think piece can be viewed here.

A final report will be published during 2016.

Local Government Funding Review and Special Economic Zones

Last July we released the Local Government Funding Review which set out the funding options and solutions to deliver stronger local communities and economies.  It outlines the steps LGNZ is taking to achieve that via our 10-point plan to incentivise economic growth and strong local communities.

We are making great strides in our efforts to advance policy for each of the ten proposals and in particular around the opportunity to test Special Economic Zones—work which we are undertaking in conjunction with The New Zealand Initiative.

LGNZ’s Funding Review has received recent support by Labour and Green party representatives and we have seen real progress around acknowledgement by central government of the significant costs councils are facing as a result of the tourism boom.

LGNZ’s Local Government Funding Review 10-point plan: incentivising economic growth and strong local communities is available here.

Local wins

Sustainable projects get a boost

Five Bay of Plenty waste reduction projects have received a share of a $50,000 fund aimed at maximising the benefits and minimising the harm from waste.

Administered by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, the Waste Resources Advisory Group (WRAG) launched this fund in 2014 to support local businesses, industry, councils, or community groups to improve waste management. Groups who were successful in this second round of funding include Beyond the Bin, Heilala Vanilla, Tauranga City Council, CReW Whakatāne and Good Neighbour Food Rescue.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Senior Project Implementation Officer Reece Irving says it was great to be able to support such a variety of projects.

“From diverting tonnes of coffee grounds from the landfill to collecting and redistributing useable food products from supermarkets, the WRAG fund has supported a range of projects that are reducing waste and encouraging sustainability” says Mr Irving.

One of the successful recipients was local social enterprise Beyond the Bin, who received $12,200 to develop an online tool to display event waste data. Operations and Strategy Director Kim Renshaw explains that the tool enables users to see how different districts are performing in terms of event waste diversion from landfill.

"We wanted to create a visualisation which made it easy to understand event waste statistics and how much event waste was being diverted from landfill in a district. For example you can see that Tauranga City average diversion rate for events where we've measured the waste is 91%. These events have diverted almost 4 tonnes of waste into composting and recycling," said Ms Renshaw.

Beyond the Bin was also working with other local councils from around New Zealand to collect more event waste data.

Another recipient was Heilala Vanilla who since having the $4,300 approved in October last year has already made a big impact. They have repurposed 144 high-density polyethylene buckets and distributed 1450kg of spent vanilla beans for garden mulch.

The project is on-going explains Production Manager Jamie Cantlon.

“I have been receiving great feedback from the gardeners out there and even have a waiting list of people looking to source it”, says Mr Cantlon.

The fund was designed to promote the region’s Waste and Resource Efficiency Strategy’s actions and initiatives.

For more information on WRAG visit

Volunteers stem wilding spread at Flock Hill

Last weekend hundreds of volunteers removed a large number of wilding conifers, one of the worst pest plants, from Flock Hill Station in Canterbury.

This is the 19th year Environment Canterbury has organised wilding volunteer days, helped by the Waimakariri Ecological and Landscape Restoration Alliance (WELRA).

Tramping club members and business representatives were among volunteers who used saws and loppers to attack lone trees on outer edges of wilding blocks. This followed up on spraying of denser blocks from a helicopter and by ground-based contractors.

Volunteer efforts help prevent weed plants invading native grasslands and herb fields, spectacular limestone landscapes, ski-fields and farmland.They are vital to halting spread from 4000 hectares of Flock Hill, reached from alpine SH73 between Castle Hill and Lake Pearson.

A second volunteer day will be held on Saturday April 2.

WELRA drives the Flock Hill wilding project. Major funders this year are the Lotteries Environment and Heritage Fund and Department of Conservation Community Conservation Partnership Fund, supported by Environment Canterbury.

Neil Walkinshaw of WELRA said contorta pine is the most widespread wilding at Flock Hill with smaller areas of Douglas fir and mountain pine. Most originate from research plantings and some from trees sheltering the station homestead.

Environment Canterbury biosecurity manager Graham Sullivan ranks wilding pines as the number one pest plant threat in Canterbury and says a co-ordinated national approach will be needed to contain its spread.

“Last year $1.2 million was spent on wilding pine control in Canterbury,” Mr Sullivan said. “Landowners contributed 36%, Environment Canterbury 26% and funders including Lotteries and DOC the rest.

“Wildings are spreading 90,000 hectares each year, despite everything that’s being done. The Government has introduced its Wilding Conifer Management Strategy and what’s needed now is national funding to be spent in priority areas.”

Nick Ledgard, former forest researcher and a wilding expert, said DOC research had shown that in the eastern South Island wilding control was cost-effective because they are easier to eradicate than most other pest plants. Without two decades of control efforts, contorta would be invasive between Porters Pass and Lake Lyndon, he said.

Wilding conifers:

• Left uncontrolled, are predicted to spread across 20% of New Zealand within 20 years, costing the economy more than $1.2 billion

• Cover nearly 6% (1.8 million hectares) of the country’s total land area

• Cause the loss of native ecosystems, species extinctions and threaten large, open mountain landscapes that define the South Island high country

• Impact historic and tourism landscapes, reduce water yields from catchments and increase wild-fire severity

• Can increase the cost and complexity of developing pasture and commercial forestry.

Coming up

Managing the impacts of sea level rise in New Zealand - implementing adaptation strategies

*Taking place this week in Auckland, Friday 8 April 2016 held at AUT University Conference Centre, Auckland city.*

This high-level one-day conference brings together international experts, as well as New Zealand’s leading policy makers, local government executives, scientists and key industry representatives, to showcase effective adaptation strategies to manage the impact of sea level rise in New Zealand.

Local government speakers include:

  • Lawrence Yule, President, Local Government New Zealand & Mayor, Hastings District Council
  • Blair Dickie, Principal Advisor Science and Strategy, Waikato Regional Council
  • Lara Clarke, Planner, Unitary Plan, Auckland Council

Other speakers include:

  • Tim Grafton, Chief Executive, Insurance Council of New Zealand
  • Matt Paterson, Government Relations Director, Property Council New Zealand
  • Graeme Blick, Chief Geodesist, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)
  • Rob Bell, Programme Leader: Hazards & Risk,National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)
  • John Perrott, Mātauranga Scientist in Conservation Ecology, Auckland University of Technology
  • Bryan Storey, Director, Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury
  • Tim Naish, Director, Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington

Click here for the full conference programme.

To register, call 021 303-181 or email

Transport NZ Summit & Infrastructure 2016

This is New Zealand’s annual event for the transport industry that is now into its 8th year. 

This event brings together senior representatives from across the freight and passenger transport sector, from Government; rail; road; sea; aviation; passenger transport providers; infrastructure providers and managers; ports; industry associations; and major users of freight networks.

Presentations will be made by senior professionals from government and the transport sectors, on key issues for developing and managing critical freight and public transport networks and infrastructure. It will focus on the latest and future developments for the transport industry including: Government policy; investment; management; integration; and strategies to meet future demands and targets.

This event annually attracts 200 plus attendees from across the transport sector and related industries.

Visit the event website for more information

Industrial Waters NZ Infrastructure before Intensification Conference – 19 April to 22 April 2016

The Trade & Industrial Waste Forum taking place in Christchurch brings together the Waste Producers, Utilities Providers, Regulators and Industry Suppliers. 

Check out the Conference Programme for more information including a list of Discussion Topics for 2016. 

Leadership for Social Innovation programme – 24 May to 27 May 2016

Philanthropy New Zealand is partnering with the Centre for Social Impact to provide a world-class Leadership for Social Innovation programme from 24 May to 27 May 2016.

You can find out more and register for Leadership for Social Innovation here.

Wild Places: EDS's 2016 Conference – 10 August to 11 August 2016

EDS’s 2016 conference will explore New Zealand’s Wild Places and assess both emerging threats and exciting new opportunities. It will draw on insights from international and local experience, case studies and workshops. It will look creatively at the development of powerful new synergies between conservation and tourism and will explore novel management and funding initiatives.

Visit the conference website for more information.