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Frontpage News - August 2016

Dear member, 

In this edition of Frontpage News we bring you the latest from the 2016 LGNZ conference, including policies launched, 2016 EXCELLENCE Award winners and our newest life members. 

Policies include LGNZ’s 2050 Challenge and a series of proposed changes to the resource management act.

We also provide updates on current workstreams, share some local wins and local government stories in the media.  We also have a message from Equip preferred partner Eastern Bridge on strategies for doing business with Asia. 

In this issue 

  • The 2050 Challenge: future proofing our communities
  • Resource management system – an eight point proposal
  • LGNZ Excellence Programme – new independent advisory board chairman appointed
  • LGNZ Life Members
  • Going international – advice from Eastern Bridge

2050 Challenge 

How New Zealand faces up to dramatic changes over the next 30 years is the focus of a major programme of work launched by Local Government New Zealand at its 2016 Conference.

Over the next three decades New Zealand will have to adapt to significant economic, social, cultural and environmental changes.  Whether it’s coping with increased urbanisation and what this means for cities and regions, responding to climate change, or caring for our environment, big challenges lie ahead.

To spark discussion and encourage Kiwis to think about these issues LGNZ has launched the 2050 Challenge: future proofing our communities discussion paper. 

The purpose of the 2050 Challenge is to identify the major shifts taking place in New Zealand to better understand the implications for local and central government.  The public is invited to have a say on the issues and contribute to the formation of strategies.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says because local government is charged with place-shaping and the delivery of public services it is required to take a long-term view.

“Local government plays a critical role in planning for the long-term prosperity of our communities, so it is right that local government leads this kind of discussion,” Mr Yule says.

“We need to talk about these issues now, because we need to be able to respond to these issues now.  The 2050 Challenge is an excellent starting point for achieving long-term sustainability.”

Work done by LGNZ so far has grouped the challenges into five major themes – urbanisation, liveable cities and changing demographics; stewardship of our natural environment; responding to climate change; equality and cohesion; and the future of work.

The 2050 Challenge was sparked by the Young Elected Members committee of New Zealand councillors.  The committee sees addressing the long term shifts impacting our communities as a critical issue for a sustainable and prosperous New Zealand.

Young Elected Members co-chair Ana Coffey, Deputy Mayor of Porirua City Council, says the 2050 Challenge doesn’t provide all the answers but asks the right questions and gives everyone the opportunity to be involved in future planning.

“The 2050 Challenge is a framework for thinking about the future, and we will need input from all of our communities to develop strategies for dealing with the big questions,” Ms Coffey says. 

You can read the document here and submit feedback

The five major shifts in New Zealand over the next 30 years: 

Urbanisation, liveable cities and changing demographics

  • By 2043 Auckland is expected to become home to a further 800,000 people, expanding to 40 per cent of New Zealand’s population. Other major cities are also expected to grow.
  • Concentration in urban centres is expected to come with a ‘hollowing out’ of many mid-sized towns and rural areas.
  • By 2050 the working age population will need to support almost double the number of people aged 65+.

Stewardship of our natural environment

  • Our natural environment continues to be under threat, despite efforts in many quarters to halt its degradation.
  • Since human settlement in New Zealand, nearly one third of native species have become extinct.
  • The quality of water in New Zealand’s lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers is variable, and depends mainly on the dominant land use in the catchment.

Responding to climate change

  • Changes include rising sea levels that will cause land loss through coastal erosion and storm events.
  • Higher temperatures and changes to rainfall patterns that will affect economic activity and ecosystems.
  • More intense tropical cyclones which increase the need for (and cost of) emergency response.
  • Low carbon infrastructure and patterns of development are essential to future prosperity.

Equality and cohesion

  • Inequality is difficult to measure, but looking at income levels and the concentration of wealth, inequality has worsened over the past 40 years.
  • Research suggests that inequality reduces social cohesion—and moving from an area of high social cohesion to an area of low social cohesion is as bad for personal health outcomes as taking up smoking.

The future of work

  • Automation holds the prospect of producing more with less—improving our nation’s overall prosperity.
  • Achieving those benefits may require major structural changes in employment.
  • Some have suggested that 46 per cent of New Zealand jobs are at high risk of automation before 2050.
  • Jobs of the future do not appear to be like many of the jobs of the past.

Designing a future-focused resource management system

A proposed resource management system with an emphasis on early decision-making and placing greater value on natural eco-systems was launched at the Local Government New Zealand 2016 Conference. 

LGNZ has released Planning our future, an eight point programme of action designed to address a range of important issues with New Zealand’s resource management system with the aim of furthering discussion about what would best suit the country’s needs in the coming decades.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says New Zealand is facing a period of significant change, including adapting to climate change and managing scarce natural resources, and after many years of ad hoc tweaking the system struggles to meet current needs.

“Our resource management system needs to be able to address challenges into the future,” Mr Yule says.

“We are making the case for comprehensive reform to address pressing issues with the system, such as the lack of integration across key planning statutes, and the need for a stronger strategic connection between central and local government.”

“We have also proposed more challenging reform that requires a different way of thinking about and valuing our environment and natural resources, which will mean we are better placed to deal with the big challenges that lie ahead,” Mr Yule says.

The action plan was developed following a review of the current system by a “blue skies” reference group chaired by Otago Regional Council Chair Stephen Woodhead, who is also Chair of LGNZ’s Regional Sector and its Environmental Policy Advisory Group.  LGNZ released the discussion document in December 2015.

The Advisory Group’s Chair Stephen Woodhead says New Zealand’s current resource management system undervalues natural ecosystems and the importance of resilience in decision-making, and as it stands now will struggle to cope with the big shifts we face in the coming 30 years.

“Currently it takes too long to agree plans and it is too costly to gain permissions to use land and develop resources and infrastructure.  At the same time some environmental trends are still declining,” Mr Woodhead says.

“On those two counts the system we have now is not delivering.  There are some good features in the Resource Management Act and we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but some of the current amendments need to be reconsidered.”

To make the necessary improvements LGNZ is advocating for a multi-stakeholder process for developing the future shape of New Zealand’s resource management system.

“Decisions need to be made as close as possible to the people they affect.  This is an area that demands responsiveness to community values so we need a broad church of stakeholders involved in this work,” Mr Yule says.

You can read the document here and contribute feedback by emailing by 5pm, Friday September 23. 

The eight point plan is grouped by three main objectives 

1. Integrate resource management decision-making across domains and enhance the strategic connection between central and local government

  • enable a vision to be set for a geographic area that provides certainty about the outcomes envisaged for that area, for example in areas of high growth;
  • create opt-in special economic zones that will enable localised resource management solutions;
  • enable councils to work with the Government to resolve local issues of national importance, for example water quality or bio-diversity. 

2. Lay the groundwork necessary for us to be confident that resource management decisions will be grounded in evidence and be transparent

  • develop a system to evaluate the performance of the resource management system;
  • introduce standard tools to assess benefits and costs of resource management decision making;
  • introduce standard methods to account for use of soil, freshwater, air and biodiversity. We need a comprehensive understanding of what resources are being ‘drawn down’. 

3. Orient our programme of action by putting in place a resource management system to deliver better decisions and create economic incentives that encourage greater environmental stewardship

  • ensure resource management decisions are made with clear environmental bottom lines and identify ‘go’ and ‘no go’ areas;
  • develop a resource charge that recognises the public nature of the resource while ensuring there remains an incentive for private sector investment in resource extraction and use.

New chair for Local Government Excellence Programme board

LGNZ is delighted to announce the appointment of Toby Stevenson, Director of Sapere Research Group and independent company director, as the inaugural chair of the Independent Assessment Board to oversee the new local government ratings system.  Mr Stevenson brings a wealth of experience to the role as both an independent director and an economist with 30 years’ experience in strategic risk management.

The new ratings system will demonstrate and improve the value and services of councils by measuring indicators across leadership, finance, service delivery and community engagement.  Participating councils will be assessed by independent experts every three years, given an overall rating on a nine point scale from triple A to single C, and the results publicised.  Councils will discuss results with communities and use the assessments to plan improvements.  The system is being set up to give communities a clear and independent picture of how well their council is performing in serving the community, and to give councils information on where they can improve.

Twenty one councils have signed up as Foundation Councils to be the first to be assessed.

Mr Stevenson has significant experience as an independent consultant and director.  He has provided independent evidence on economic benefits for resource consent applications with a number of local authorities and has given expert evidence in the Environment Court and Employment Relations Authority in New Zealand.  He sat on the Ministerial Review of the Electricity Industry in 2009 that led to 29 changes to the electricity industry being passed in legislation.  Mr Stevenson is the Chairman of King Country Energy.

“This is a great programme,” Mr Stevenson says. “It is a great chance for councils to change the way they perform and change the way they are perceived. But it is better than that, it is also a chance for local authorities to change their influence over the role they play in our economy.”

Life members 

Life membership awards are given in recognition of outstanding contribution to the local government sector, community and LGNZ generally.

At this year’s LGNZ Conference three awards were presented – to former Manukau City Councillor and mayor Sir Barry Curtis, former mayor of Waitakere Sir Bob Harvey, and former Manukau City Council chief executive and current interim Far North District Council chief executive Colin Dale.

Sir Barry was first elected as a Manukau City Councillor in 1968, three years after the city was formed. He was re-elected each election until 1980 and was elected mayor in 1983, a role he held until 2007. When he announced his intention to retire he was the longest serving mayor at that time.  In the 1992 New Year Honours, Sir Barry was made a Knight Bachelor for services to local government and the community.

Sir Bob Harvey served six terms as the mayor of Waitakere, retiring in 2010. He is the Champion for Auckland responsible for International Investment, and until recently was Chairman of Waterfront Auckland with responsibility for delivering a world class waterfront for the city.

Sir Bob was awarded a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours in 2013 for services to local body affairs and he community.

Colin Dale has been involved in the local government sector for many years and has made a significant contribution to the cities and districts he has worked with.  Mr Dale was Manukau City Council chief executive for 20 years, a commissioner at Kaipara District Council and is currently interim chief executive at the Far North District Council, a role he is set to retire from shortly.

Mr Dale has been active at the national level during his career in a range of capacities. He was involved in the Local Government towards 2010 initiative with LGNZ, the Department of Internal Affairs and the Auckland Transition Authority.  He has also contributed to LGNZ workshops and seminars and has been a valuable mentor and adviser to new chief executives and senior staff.

It is important for the future of our sector that the contribution of members who have shaped our system of local democracy and local government are acknowledged and recognised.

LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards 2016 winners  

Our heartfelt congratulations go out to all the winners in this year's EXCELLENCE Awards, announced at the conference.

Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Engagement

Hamilton City Council: Hamilton Central City Safety Plan

Click here for a media release 

Click here to see a short video clip about the project

Highly commended: Awarded to Christchurch City Council for the Dudley Creek Long Term Flood Remediation Project and Rotorua Lakes Council for its Te Arawa Partnership Project. 

MartinJenkins EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development

Kawerau District Council and Matamata-Piako District Council: Seamless Boundaries  

Click here for a media release

Click here to see a short video clip about the project 

Chorus EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice in Infrastructure Management

Southland District Council: Changing Direction - The Way Forward for Southland’s Roads

Click here for a media release

Click here to see a short video clip about the project 

Highly commended: Awarded to Hamilton City Council for its Low River Contingency Project; Napier City Council for its Marine Parade Outfall and Viewing Platform and Westland District Council for its Blue Spur Water Treatment Plant Expansion Project. 

Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact

Auckland Council: Hunua Ranges Pest Management Programme

Click here for a media release

Click here to see a short video clip about the project 

Highly commended: Awarded to Bay of Plenty Regional Council for its Ōhiwa Harbour Strategy Implementation and West Coast Regional Council for the Lake Brunner Water Quality Enhancement Project. 

Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Best Creative Place

New Plymouth District Council: Len Lye Centre

Click here for a media release

Click here to see a short video clip about the project

Highly commended: Awarded to Dunedin City Council for Ara Toi Otepoti – Dunedin’s Arts and Culture Strategy and Hamilton City Council for its ‘Community Transforms a City Dump’ Hamilton Gardens project. 

MartinJenkins Judges' Choice Award for Outstanding Value and Service Delivery

Rotorua Lakes Council: Te Arawa Partnership

Click here for a media release

Click here to see a short video clip about the project 

Outstanding Contribution to Local Government 

Kerry Prendergast –  Former Mayor and councillor of Wellington 

Click here for a media release

New approach to cracking down on freedom campers

Local government and Tourism Holdings Limited (THL) are partnering to launch a freedom camping infringements trial in response to campervan rental hirers who break freedom camping laws.

The Thames-Coromandel and Queenstown-Lakes district councils are partnering with THL, operating the Maui, Britz and Mighty rental campervan brands, to trial a voluntary scheme to help collect infringement fees incurred by hirers who flout freedom camping laws.

While local councils acknowledge the good behaviour of many, the poor behaviour of some freedom campers casts stigma over the whole practice and needs to be addressed.  Irresponsible use of public places, camping where prohibited, littering, incorrect disposal of human waste, and a poor level of knowledge by the campers are just some of the issues troubling local councils.

Incentivising the right behaviour is proving to be a challenge, as is collection of unpaid infringement fines.  At present, infringement fines are not tagged to the rental vehicle and many infringement fines are unpaid when people leave the country.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) President Lawrence Yule says that support from the tourism industry is imperative to successfully improve the management of freedom camping in communities throughout New Zealand.

“Tourism operators have multiple touchpoints with tourists and as such are perfectly placed for assisting local councils with educating customers, enforcement and collection of fines,” Mr Yule says.

Grant Webster, CEO, Tourism Holdings Limited agrees there is a problem and says, “We believe in the benefits that motorhome tourism brings to areas that are off the mainstream tourist routes.  We have taken a strong educational approach to responsible camping to date; ensuring customers have the Campermate app at hand that informs them of all approved designated overnight parking spots, commercial campsites and DOC sites.  We are now happy to work with councils to take this a step further and help collect infringement fees for those that ignore the wide range of approved overnight options available to our rental motorhome customers”.

Councils called for changes to the Freedom Camping Act 2011 in a remit presented by South Island councils at the Local Government New Zealand conference last month.

Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga has announced the Government is considering ways to improve the management of freedom camping.  A review will consider widening the infringement powers available to councils, and will also look at the different approaches councils are taking to freedom camping.

Time running out for local candidates to step forward

With nominations for the October local council elections closing this week Local Government New Zealand is reminding people they only have until midday on Friday 12 August to get their nominations in.

Our communities need good people to stand and make a difference and it is not too late to put yourself forward.  Elections are being held for councils, district health boards, local boards, community boards and liquor licensing trusts.

LGNZ chief executive Malcolm Alexander says if you’re a New Zealand citizen, over 18 years of age and you’re on the electoral roll you can stand as a candidate.

“All you need is the desire to represent your community and make a difference to your community,” Mr Alexander says.

Anyone wishing to stand as an elected member must be nominated by two people enrolled in the district or ward you intend to stand, and pay a deposit of $200. Nominations close at noon on Friday 12 August.

“Local government and local democracy are fundamental to our society, giving the opportunity for everyone’s voice to be heard,” Mr Alexander says.

“Mayors and councillors exercise a leadership role in our towns, cities and regions and represent the views of the community.  We need a range of elected members of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds to ensure our council represents the diversity of our community.”

Local Government New Zealand is running a Vote2016 campaign aiming to lift nationwide voter turnout in local elections to more than 50 per cent – a first since the 1980s.

For further information on enrolling visit or contact your local council. 

Going International - a message from EquiP preferred partner Eastern Bridge

Being internationally connected can result in substantial benefits for communities but getting it right requires strategy, an Asia busness expert says.

Eastern Bridge, a New Zealand company which focuses on building economic and business relationships between New Zealand and East Asia, has recently partnered with LGNZ’s EquiP to provide advice to councils interested in working with Asia.

Managing director Simon Appleton says in 2015 the Chinese alone contributed over $1 billion in tourism, sent over 30,000 international students to New Zealand, invested $1.9 billion and bought $8 billion worth of New Zealand products.

Mr Appleton says a strategic approach is needed to make the most of the “massive opportunities” that exist in Asia.

“An international strategy can help to align the goals of a council and community,” Mr Appleton says.

He says there are three main areas to concentrate on when developing a strategy.

Firstly, it is important to look at the key areas of focus.  For many districts there is a strong focus on tourism, export education, business and investment attraction, as well as supporting local businesses to go international.  Councils need to understand what opportunities are actually attainable. 

Secondly, any strategy put in place should also seek to understand your partner and identify areas for cooperation.  It is important to build an understanding of their aspirations and what the partner wants to get out of the relationship.  A great example of this understanding is provided by Hauraki District and Jiading, who are currently developing an export education strategy. The strategy looks at both districts to connect their mutually aligned aspirations.

Finally, it is important to identify a management system to keep the relationship active.  This can be measured with performance indicators.  Eastern Bridge’s own International Relationship Management Service provides its client councils with a combination of country-specific communication support, due diligence, marketing, referrals and introductions, as well as training and general consulting for $500 per month.  Many larger councils have a dedicated international relations team that performs a similar role.

In September 2016 Eastern Bridge will produce a Chinese and Korean promotional booklet to showcase their clients.  The publication is free for clients and will be distributed in New Zealand, China and South Korea.  Should an organisation like to take part in this promotion they can sign up to Eastern Bridge’s International Relations Management Service before Friday 12 August.

Eastern Bridge is a New Zealand company which focuses on building economic and business relationships between New Zealand and East Asia.  To sign up for a membership with Eastern Bridge, please email, or visit for more information. 

Local wins

Wellingtonians say public transport has got a lot better

Wellingtonians have voted a big lift in their satisfaction with public transport in 2015/2016 and a steep increase in train customers over this period backs this up.

“We’re completely focused on providing a service that customers want to use and these figures tell us this is working,” says Paul Swain, Greater Wellington Regional Council’s public transport portfolio leader.

“We are delighted that more public transport customers have told us they satisfied with their journey, the network and the facilities. We are particularly happy that more people would now recommend public transport to their friends.” Read more

Velodrome progresses under joint Council partnership

Nelson-Tasman’s new premiere cycling venue, the Saxton Velodrome, is taking shape at Saxton Field, as the Nelson City and Tasman District councils approach 40 years of working together on the regional sports and recreation facility.

The velodrome, due to be completed by the end of 2016, is the last major sports facility for currently planned for Saxton Field by the two councils. Once it is completed, work will move on to elements such as a new link road, public walkway and landscaping.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the approaching milestone marked 37 years since the Nelson City and Richmond Borough councils first discussed the future use of the land in 1979. Read more

Arts support and funding gets boost from Creative NZ

As part of the Regional Arts Pilot (RAP) Thames-Coromandel District Council has been allocated extra funding for the Creative Communities Scheme specifically for those artists and arts organisations who have taken part in the regional capability-building programme (ARTillery).

Creative Waikato will deliver the programme to provide tools to artists and organisations to succeed in their chosen field. The programme consists of eight free, interactive and practical workshops which have been designed so that participants work on their own project during the workshop which they can immediately apply in the real world. Read more  

Coming up

  • Local Government Challenges and Reforms: A Victoria University School of Government three-day course on local government delivered in Auckland. The course is designed for individuals working in local and central government and others who wish to learn more about current policy, management and governance challenges in the sector. Held in late August and October. Email for info and to enrol.
  • New Zealand Harkness Fellowships are for emerging New Zealand leaders in any field of study or vocation (excluding health care policy and practice) to study or research in the US for between eight and twelve weeks. One New Zealand Harkness Fellowship worth NZ$30,000 will be offered in 2016 (for travel in 2017), to a person who is currently employed in a public sector organisation in New Zealand including local government.  Applications are due 14 October. For more information and to apply, please click here
  • The Australia-New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference will be held in Auckland from 11-12 October. This event builds on the success of last year’s conference and delves more deeply into the implications of transitioning to a low carbon economy for business, local government and communities. The programme outline is now available and registration is live. Visit for more info.