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Frontpage News - April 2017

Dear member,

In this edition of Frontpage News we share the LGNZ perspective on a range of issues including the recent announcements on policing, the Productivity Commission’s ‘Better urban planning’ report, the upcoming New Zealand China Mayoral Forum and the ongoing discussion about the funding of tourism infrastructure.  We provide an update on the LGNZ Conference 2017 which is being held in Auckland this July and introduce our new governance and advisory groups.

We also feature an interview with new Central Hawke’s Bay mayor Alex Walker.  Alex is a breath of fresh air and offers a generous insight into her leadership style and hopes for the CHB District – well worth reading!

In this issue

  • Future proofing, technology and investment to be canvassed at LGNZ conference
  • Police rollout a positive step for community safety
  • Second New Zealand China Mayoral Forum to strengthen relationship
  • LGNZ welcomes ‘Better urban planning’ report’s call for a wider funding toolbox
  • New groups to work on big issues in local government
  • People, talking and listening - Central Hawke’s Bay’s new mayor Alex Walker loves her new role


Community resilience

Work on establishing the Local Government Risk Agency is with the new Minister of Finance, but whatever the outcome of that process it is certain we need a new approach to risk and resilience.  A national framework and policy alignment at the central and local government level, and a plan for joint implementation across New Zealand, remains our goal and is the aim of the Local Government Risk Agency and we continue to work towards this.

Local government excellence programme

The newly-named CouncilMARK excellence programme is progressing very well with assessments for 18 Foundation Member councils complete.  Reports for the first nine councils to be assessed are currently being finalised with a likely release date of May 2017 and the reports for the remaining 10 Foundation Memberswill be released by July 2017.  LGNZ has started work on the prospectus for the second intake of councils and anticipates calling for registrations of interest for year two shortly.  For more information, click here.

Water 2050

Local Government New Zealand has launched a new piece of work to create a comprehensive framework that brings freshwater issues and water infrastructure into a coherent policy.  “Water 2050” will develop a framework for water that coherently integrates freshwater quality and quantity, standards, rights and allocation, land use, three waters infrastructure, cost and affordability, and funding while recognising that the allocation of iwi rights and interests in freshwater is a live issue for the Crown.  For more on Water 2050 click here

Future proofing, technology and investment to be canvassed at LGNZ conference

The challenges New Zealand faces in the coming decades have been well canvassed by LGNZ in its 2050 Challenge discussion document, which highlighted a range of shifts New Zealand will need to adapt to.  These include climate change, changing demographics and advances in technology impacting on the ways we work, among others

The LGNZ Conference 2017 to be held in July picks up on this future focus with the theme for this year’s event, ‘creating pathways to 2050: liveable spaces and loveable places’.

To bring this theme to life local and international speakers will raise key issues, such as:

  • Building communities from the ground up: strengthening local democracy and engagement.  How engaging communities in shaping the look, function and feel of the places in which they live can build a strong sense of local pride, identity and connection
  • Community faces: how people are shaping the future.   A future vision on how people will shape our communities in the coming decades as a result of New Zealand's growing diversity.  This touching session features personal stories from members of the Cook Islands Development Agency of New Zealand and the Roots Collective on how they are changing lives in their community.
  • Building tomorrow's places 2050: the role of technology.  Looking at the role of technology in transport and how smart technology can be integrated in councils future plans.  Learn about the practical technology trials underway to understand why New Zealand is a world leader in the implementation of Smart City technology.
  • Creating tomorrow's places 2050.  Attracting inward investment to boost local economy. Three councils share best practice examples and stories of how their approach has opened the door to investment, strengthening the resilience of their local economy.
  • Liveable spaces and loveable places: community infrastructure.  Looking at the world’s most liveable cities: Creating cities that will continue to improve quality of life for our communities through liveable spaces and loveable places.
  • Sustainable development 2050: inspired action to build great communities.  Bringing together policy, practice and research to inform our council leaders on how they can champion change to create and sustain liveable spaces and loveable places.  A highly inspiring presentation on delivering a vision for our cities and towns.
  • Looking after tomorrow's places 2050: meeting our nation's water needs.  Managing community expectations and delivering the Government's objectives for freshwater water quality is a challenge facing all of New Zealand.  The primary sector and urban infrastructure are key areas for focus but equally we need to have strong conversations with our community on costs and plans to deliver.
  • Future proofing our communities.  This compelling international speaker brings the conference themes together and presents views on how and why we must adapt and be future-ready in a period of unprecedented technological, environmental, and demographic change. 

The 2017 LGNZ Conference will take place at the SKYCITY Convention Centre in Auckland from 23 - 25 July.  To register at the early bird rate visit


Police roll out a positive step for community safety 

Detail released about the roll out of an extra 880 police over the next four years gives rural communities assurance their concerns have been heard, Local Government New Zealand says. 

Police Commissioner Mike Bush last week announced where the new police will be deployed over the next four years.  Of those 880 sworn officers 140 are destined for rural and regional areas and a further 20 stations will have a 24/7 officer on duty.  All 12 police districts are to receive more police over the four years. 

LGNZ Rural Sector Chairman and Waitomo Mayor Brian Hanna says the additional resources will be welcomed by country communities which have expressed concern over the reduction in police availability for less serious crime and safety issues. 

“This has been a significant issue for many smaller communities and was the subject of a very well-supported remit at our conference last year, so overall we are pleased to see some steps in the right direction,” Mr Hanna says.

“Not everyone will be completely satisfied with what has been announced and we will continue to highlight the issues being faced around the country, but we now have an opportunity to further work with the Commissioner, our local Area Commanders and the Government to make sure the safety of our communities to improve.” 

Mr Hanna says four years is a long time but the challenge of recruiting and training 880 new officers can not be underestimated. 

“I feel we should be supporting the Police in this challenge. In fact councils can play a role in this by identifying and supporting those in our communities who could go on to join the police.” 

LGNZ will continue to work with rural mayors to ensure any ongoing concerns are heard. 


Second New Zealand China Mayoral Forum to strengthen relationship

Local Government New Zealand will host the second New Zealand China Mayoral Forum in Wellington this year, following the successful inaugural event of 2015.

The second Forum to be held in Wellington in December was announced during the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in March.

Twelve Mayors and a significant number of business delegates from New Zealand’s cities and regions travelled to Xiamen in 2015 to meet with Chinese counterparts to enhance cooperation between New Zealand and Chinese local governments, and to establish better connections between Chinese and New Zealand cities.  The Forum was hosted by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).  Over 300 delegates and some of China’s largest cities were involved.

The second Forum will be held in Wellington on 4 December 2017, with a focus on sustainable economies and balancing economic development and the environment.  Topics to be discussed include trade and investment opportunities in tourism, education and primary industries. There will also be a focus on sharing expertise in social wellbeing and environmental protection.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says the 2015 Forum was a great success, strengthening the relationships between regions of both countries.

“China is our biggest trading partner and as such our relationship is extremely important to our economy,” Mr Yule says.

“The Forum of two years ago further enriched New Zealand’s ties with China and we look forward to meeting again later this year. There were a number of positive outcomes including the signing of the Xiamen Declaration which signifies co-operation at the sub-national level to achieve economic development outcomes.”

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says the capital is proud to host the event and that it reflects the growing importance of the city’s relationship with China.

It is anticipated that up to 15 cities from China will be represented at the Forum in December, with significant political and business delegations expected.  Between 200 and 300 are expected to be involved.

A business forum matching session will be held on the Sunday prior to the forum.


LGNZ welcomes ‘Better urban planning’ report’s call for a wider funding toolbox

The Productivity Commission’s new report into New Zealand’s urban planning system which highlights the need for councils in high growth areas to have access to more tools to fund infrastructure is spot on, Local Government New Zealand says.

The report, Better urban planning, was commissioned by the Government in 2015 and released in March.  The inquiry aimed to set out what a high performing urban planning system would look like.

Key findings of the report confirm Local Government New Zealand’s long-held view that alternatives to a reliance on rates and debt are needed to assist growing communities put in place transport, drinking, waste and storm water services and other essential infrastructure and amenities that communities need.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says there are a number of actions identified in the report which would assist councils with growth challenges.

In particular, the Commission’s report calls for a wider set of funding tools for high-growth councils such as value capture and the use of urban development authorities to assist with large scale development.

“The challenges growth councils face include major issues like housing supply and the cost of funding infrastructure needed for development, and in many areas there are big questions about whether existing residents are able to afford to fund these developments,” Mr Yule says.

“Local government welcomes these important recommendations as a platform for policy development.  A wider funding toolbox is essential.  Urban development authorities are a tool widely used worldwide and will not be the whole solution but can be the catalyst for change.  We are keen to have this additional tool for councils to deliver our key projects and to cut through some of the hurdles associated with fragmented land ownership,” Mr Yule says.

The report comes as the Local Government Funding Agency, which lends to 52 councils, says the need for alternative funding options is becoming more urgent.

LGFA Chairman Craig Stobo said at a recent LGNZ/LGFA quarterly media briefing that its member councils are expected to maintain a financial buffer for unexpected expenditure and should continue to display prudent financial management – a trend LGFA has seen since its inception.  However with rising infrastructure pressure there is a need for alternatives to debt funding.

“Councils are generally in a strong position, and we expect them to remain within their financial covenants,” Mr Stobo says.  “However there are critical infrastructure requirements particularly in areas of high growth or key tourism areas which can’t be ignored, and some of those councils have the largest funding challenges.”


New groups to work on big issues in local government

A new policy group to advise local government on the big issues facing communities nationwide will bring together a diverse and capable team.

Local Government New Zealand’s new Policy Advisory Group will focus on the issues relating to the economic, environmental, social, and cultural well-being of New Zealand and its communities, including policy around water, climate change and housing.

LGNZ president Lawrence Yule says members of the group are highly experienced and capable local government leaders and will use their combined skills and knowledge to provide recommendations on the issues it covers.

“There is a lot of talent and experience in the local government family and this is a powerful way of developing policy that works across our diverse communities,” Mr Yule says.

“Looking ahead local government and the communities it serves have a range of challenges to meet.  These include issues of immediate concern like housing affordability and rising infrastructure needs as well as longer term shifts like adapting to climate change, an ageing population and increasing urbanisation.

“This group will for the next three years help the sector set policies and strategies in response to these and other challenges.  It is important work for the betterment of the whole country and I welcome those who have been appointed.”

Members of Policy Advisory Group are:

Chair – Richard Kempthorne, LGNZ National Council Member and Mayor, Tasman District Council;

Stuart Crosby, Councillor, LGNZ National Council Member and Bay of Plenty Regional Council;

David Bedford, Chair, Environment Canterbury;

Jenny Brash, Councillor, Greater Wellington Regional Council;

Ana Coffey, Councillor, Porirua City Council

Meng Foon, Mayor, Gisborne District Council;

John Forbes, Mayor, Opotiki District Council;

Richard Hills, Councillor, Auckland Council;

Janet Holborow, Deputy Mayor, Kapiti Coast District Council;

Simon Markham, Manager Strategy and Engagement, Waimakariri District Council.

Michael Meehan, Chief Executive, West Coast Regional Council;

Jane Nees, Deputy Chair, Bay of Plenty Regional Council;

Lan Pham, Councillor, Environment Canterbury;

Penny Pirrit, Director Regulatory Services, Auckland Council;

Bob Simcock, Councillor, Waikato Regional Council;

Paula Southgate, Councillor, Hamilton City Council; and

Piri-Hira Tukapua, Councillor, Horowhenua District Council.

LGNZ has also reformed its Governance and Strategy Advisory Group, which provides advice on the overall strategic direction of LGNZ and best practice approaches to local government governance, performance, funding and procedure.

Among other emerging issues this work will entail overseeing the LGNZ election manifesto ahead of this year’s general election, looking ahead to the 2019 local elections and boosting engagement in local government and advancing the Local Government Risk Agency.

The current members of the Governance and Strategy Committee are:

Lawrence Yule, President, LGNZ and Mayor, Hastings District Council (Chair);

Dave Cull, Vice President, LGNZ and Mayor, Dunedin City Council;

Wayne Guppy, Mayor, Upper Hutt City Council;

Aaron Hawkins, Councillor, Dunedin City Council;

Bonita Bigham, Councillor, South Taranaki District Council;

David Ayers, Mayor, Waimakariri District Council;

David MacLeod, Chair, Taranaki Regional Council;

Hon David Caygill, Councillor, Environment Canterbury;

Diane Calvert, Councillor, Wellington City Council;

Greg Innes, Councillor, Whangarei District Council;

Kelvin Clout, Deputy Mayor, Tauranga City Council;

Monique Davidson, Group Manager, Horowhenua District Council;

Phil Wilson, Governance Director, Auckland Council;

Pippa Coom, Local Board Chair, Auckland Council;

Tania McInnes, Deputy Mayor, Far North District Council; and

Hon Steve Chadwick, Mayor, Rotorua Lakes District Council.


People, talking and listening - Central Hawke’s Bay’s new mayor Alex Walker loves her new role…

From citizen to mayor – what inspired you to run for mayor and how has the first few months in the role gone?

In very simple terms, I could see a gap in the leadership of the community, and I had the skills and passion for working with people that could make a match! I suppose you could say that I see it as my contribution to the fabric of a strong community – everyone has their strengths and contributes in different ways.  Stepping back a little though – Central Hawke’s Bay is faced with figuring out how to carve out their future in a modern world - socially, economically and environmentally. I could see that a we needed strong, positive leadership with a multi-pronged approach – long gone are the days when rural councils are just about “roads and rates”.  Our community could obviously see that too, and voted for a largely new, younger and more innovative council last year.  The first few months have been crazy, amazing, stressful and emotional all at the same time, but I have never once regretted my decision to go for the job.  It is probably better than I had ever imagined – people, people, people, all the time which I LOVE! Councillors, staff, community, regional leaders, national leaders – all want and need interaction from Mayors in slightly different ways, something that makes every day different, interesting and challenging.  And nothing is insurmountable if we always come back to our common basis of doing the best for our community. The powerful network of Mayors around the country has probably been the most surprising and valuable thing I have learned about.  I don’t think our communities know or understand the difference Mayors, as a group, can make.

What are the biggest challenges your community faces and what steps are you and your council taking to address them?

Our biggest challenge is definitely around economic growth and progress. We currently rely on a largely agricultural economy – primarily red meat, but supplemented by other agricultural and horticultural primary produce. The challenge, which we are not alone in, is how to ensure both sustainability of those industries, through responsible land and water use, and diversification to higher value products and businesses.  In a first step, we have included a Community Development Committee into our governance structure to bring economic and social development strategies into focus.  A huge economic opportunity for our community is the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme which will stimulate activity, sustainability and diversification across industry, farming and business on many levels.  Preparing for this project, and indeed, preparing for if it doesn’t go ahead are important priorities.  In a slightly different vein, attracting more people, investment and ideas to our small district will help develop a more resilient community.  Our proximity to the cities of Hastings, Napier and Palmerston North, paired with our relaxed rural lifestyle and affordable land and housing mean we are currently a “hidden treasure”. We need to build on these strengths to create a positive future based on people and prosperity – economically, socially and environmentally.

The CHB Council is a relatively new group of people.  How have you brought the team together in a short space of time? 

Right from the outset I have supported our councillors to act together as a team.  We will make more difference in our community if we are working together, than against each other.  The key to this has been talk, talk, talk and more talk!  Finding common ground, common values and appreciating our differences in both priorities and personalities.  Time spent together is crucial, so as well as time together in chambers in committees, workshops and meetings, we have taken the time to work together on our priorities and strategies. We have worked through a recruitment process for a new Chief Executive – arguably one of the most important decisions we will make. This process was a huge benefit to identifying and consolidating our views on how we see the future of the District, and the role that Council plays. It really forced us to think and act together.

How would you describe your leadership style and what is making it successful? Where do you need to adapt?  

I am open, friendly and most importantly, I listen.  I think that simple approach – of being myself – has been crucial in my progress so far.  One of our big election issues was around transparency and communication.  I think there is a strong shift in our community’s perceptions and expectations of democracy and the role that they expect to play – understanding the issues, and being involved with the issues that affect them.  We shouldn’t be doing things “to people” but “with people”.  This is a challenge to politicians the world-over at the moment.  As a leader in Local Government, I see that my leadership style and expectations must reflect that. I like to see people succeed and believe in the strength of collective vision and decision making.  Translating that approach into the council business, via a new Chief Executive are the next steps.


Coming up

Freshwater symposium 29-30 May 2017

LGNZ will host a two day symposium in May looking at the strategic issues for freshwater management in New Zealand.  Register here.

The symposium will be held 29 and 30 May in Wellington.  The two day symposium will look at the strategic issues for freshwater management in New Zealand with a particular focus on water quality, quantity and funding and how we get the right outcomes for communities.

The symposium will include a key note speech from Austin-based David Maidment, a specialist in environment and water resources engineering from the Center for Research in Water Resources, at the University of Texas.

Local wins

Council consultation wins New Zealand Planning Institute’s Best Practice Award

Palmerston North City Council, Opus International Consultants and Green Infrastructural Services have won the New Zealand Planning Institute’s Best Practice Award for their consultation on the He Ara Kotahi pedestrian/cycle bridge. Read more

Mutual mentor plan to inspire leaders

Marlborough's mayor and an 18-year-old former college student have joined forces to help inspire leadership talents in each other.  Tane Henderson-Deakin is the first teenager to be chosen to take part in a special scheme aimed at developing leadership among young Maori. Read more

Performance in spotlight

The Waimakariri District Council's (WDC) performance has come under scrutiny.  Two assessors from Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) visited the district as part of LGNZ's local government excellence programme, Mayor David Ayers said.

"Local government excellence is a new process LGNZ has developed to help councils look at self-improvement." Read more

In the media

How a sinking South Dunedin is dealing with rising sea levels

Waikato gets lion's share of new cops

RMA reforms highlight climate change

Retiring for the second time after 61 years

Getting ready for when it pours

$1.3 billion needed to keep up with tourism boom

Local Government NZ highlights housing and tourism infrastructure spending pressures, wants a slice of the GST revenue brought in from tourists