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Frontpage News - February 2016

The 2016 LGNZ Conference

The 2016 LGNZ Conference will take place at the Dunedin Centre from 24 - 26 July 2016. The focus will be on placemaking – leading change and building places for tomorrow where communities and businesses can prosper and creating places where people love to live, work and play.

The LGNZ conference is a chance for delegates to listen to fresh thinking from local and international speakers, take part in valuable, hard-hitting discussions and network within the sector.  It 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.

For more information visit the Conference website.

LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards – recognising best practice

The 2016 EXCELLENCE Awards place a high value on local government excellence in the areas of community engagement, economic development, infrastructure management, environmental impact, creative places and overall value and service.

The 2016 EXCELLENCE Awards categories are:

  1. Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Engagement.
  2. MartinJenkins EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice Contribution to Local Economic Development.
  3. Chorus EXCELLENCE Award for Best Practice in Infrastructure Management.
  4. Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Impact.
  5. NEW Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Best Creative Place.
  6. NEW MartinJenkins Judges’ Choice Award for Outstanding Value and Service Delivery.  

LGNZ EXCELLENCE Award entries are open until 29 April.

For Awards details and criteria, please visit the Conference website.

Vote2016 -A new campaign to increase voter turnout at the 2016 Local Authority Elections

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

Local Authority Election turnout has been declining in many areas of New Zealand since the 1980s.  LGNZ’s ten-month Vote2016 campaign, running until the 8 October polling date, aims to lift voter numbers above 50 per cent nationally for the first time since 1998.

LGNZ’s Vote2016 campaign has been developed to:

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

The campaign’s aim is to start a conversation around the issues that matter to New Zealanders, both at a national and local level, at the same time growing citizens’ 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.

“By making that connection, we hope it inspires Kiwis to take a more proactive stance on the issues they care about in their communities,” said LGNZ President Lawrence Yule

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.

Mr Yule said successful candidates would be provided with significant support.  LGNZ provides elected members and council staff with governance training and guidance through its EquiP professional development programme designed builds a consistent level of capability across the sector.  EquiP partners with The Institute of Directors to deliver this service.

The final step of the campaign is ensuring voters have access to the information they need about candidates standing in their community and about the voting process, including when, where and how they can vote.  This includes working with central government to implement an online voting option, among other initiatives.  Eight councils are set to take part in an online voting trial for the Local Authority Elections this October.

Mr Yule urges New Zealanders to find out more about what their local council is doing in their own community and how they can get involved and have their say in how to shape it.

Vote2016 campaign research

The Vote2016 campaign is based on domestic and international research about who is voting, who isn’t voting, why they aren’t voting and what will influence them to vote. Measures to build elector turnout will include a strong focus on younger voters.

Mr Yule says local body voter turnout varies significantly across different age groups and geographic areas. 

LGNZ survey results have shown:

  • The total national voter turnout for the 2013 election was 41.3 per cent.
  • The highest voter turnout in 2010 was in the 70-plus age group (89 per cent) and lowest was in the 18-29 age group (34 per cent).
  • Overall, metro and rural areas saw a five per cent decline in turn out between 2010 and 2013 while provincial electorates saw a three per cent decline.
  • The main reasons people give for not voting is not knowing enough about the candidates (31 per cent), ‘forgot or left too late’ (24 per cent), ‘not interested’ or ‘too busy’ (each 14 per cent).
  • A number of areas successfully lifted voting turnout in 2013.  The biggest rise was Southland District (seven per cent).  The biggest drop was Hurunui District (24 per cent).
  • Wellington was the only Metro district to lift voter numbers in 2013 (two per cent).  Auckland saw the largest drop (15 per cent).

New Zealand’s local body voter turnout is lower than a number of OECD countries with similar forms of government, including Ireland, Denmark and Norway – but it is still higher than Australia, England or Canada.

Local government supports concerted effort to halt the spread of wilding conifers

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has lent its support to a national strategy to address the rapidly escalating threat of wilding conifers to both the environment and economy.

The organisation is standing behind the concerted national approach underway between local and central government and other stakeholders to tackle the relentless spread of the invasive trees.  Wilding conifers are forecast to cost New Zealand billions in economic losses over the coming decades, impacting on industries from agriculture to tourism.

Chair of LGNZ’s Regional Sector, Stephen Woodhead, said the wilding conifer issue is now so severe 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  trees in places they are not supposed to be.  They have been branded the number one pest in some regions.”

Wilding conifers currently occupy around 1.8 million hectares, nearly six per cent of New Zealand’s land area.  While the problem is at its worst in the South, particularly Otago, Marlborough, Canterbury, Queenstown and Southland they are also spreading through certain areas of the North Island, such as the central plateau. 

The potential economic impact is huge and estimated at $1.2 billion over 20 years with the figure increasing exponentially after that.

“If we don’t mount a coordinated control effort now, there will be devastating long-term impacts for New Zealand’s environment and economy,” says Mr Woodhead.

Local government wants to raise the profile of the wilding conifer threat amongst all New Zealanders.  Mr Woodhead said that, without immediate action, the problem will become so severe it could be uneconomic to deal with. 

Please click here to read our full media release.


LGNZ’s “Fit for purpose resource management regime” project and Resource Legislation Amendment Bill

In December, LGNZ released its initial discussion document in its first principles review of what a fit-for-purpose resource management regime should look like.  

The thinkpiece A ‘blue skies’ discussion about New Zealand’s resource management systemis the first stage of the initiative announced last September, establishing a cross-sector group of experts and practitioners to undertake a first principles review of New Zealand’s environmental management framework. 

The blue skies review of New Zealand’s resource management system highlights the question of whether, after 25 years and repeated experiments and amendments, the Resource Management Act (RMA) is still fit for purpose.

Submissions on the document were open until Friday 19 February.  A final report will be published during 2016.

Concurrently, LGNZ is working with Simpson Grierson on analysis of the proposed changes to the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill and will make a submission on behalf of the sector.

Māori Land Act

Cabinet has agreed to provide local councils with more workable and equitable tools to deal with issues around the rating of unused and unoccupied Māori land.

The changes to the ratings framework for Māori land will be made via Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill and in amendments to the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002, the Local Government Act 2002, and the Rating Valuation Act 1998.  Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill will be introduced into Parliament early this year.

The changes will allow councils to remove rates arrears on unoccupied and unused Māori land where there is a demonstrable commitment to use or occupy land; there is little prospect of the land ever being used or occupied.

A new approach to the valuation of Māori land for rating purposes will also be developed.

A potential Local Government Risk Agency

In June 2015, LGNZ announced it has formed a relationship with the Crown to investigate options for a Local Government Risk Agency (LGRA).

The establishment board has been working closely with LGNZ, local authorities, and officials from the Department of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and The Treasury since its inception.  Its primary task is to identify risk management services that would assist councils and locally owned infrastructure.

The Board’s initial draft business case is currently under review.  It recommends the establishment of an LGRA to provide comprehensive and consistent risk management expertise, knowledge and tools to local authorities across the country.  This work is occurring concurrently with the Crown's review of its 60:40 co-funding of natural disasters (for three waters infrastructure and river control).

The approach discussed in this business case is consistent with international moves to draw people’s attention to preventing new risks, reducing existing risks, and strengthening resilience so communities and nations can recover from disasters more quickly.


A potential Local Government Risk Agency

In June 2015, LGNZ announced it has formed a relationship with the Crown to investigate options for a Local Government Risk Agency (LGRA).

The establishment board has been working closely with LGNZ, local authorities, and officials from the Department of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and The Treasury since its inception.  Its primary task is to identify risk management services that would assist councils and locally owned infrastructure.

The Board’s initial draft business case is currently underway and we would expect to update readers further later this year. 

Major Global Award for Whanganui

Whanganui Mayor Annette Main is “absolutely thrilled” the Whanganui District has been included in the world’s Top7 Intelligent Communities by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF).

Whanganui joins seven communities worldwide which have been awarded the prestigious title for their work on developing community and economic prosperity using broadband technology. 

The Top7 Intelligent Communities were chosen today at 12.00 noon, NZ time in a live stream on the ICF website.

They are: Hsinchu City, Taiwan; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Muelheim an der Ruhr, Germany; New Taipei City, Taiwan; Surrey, British Columbia, Canada; Whanganui, New Zealand and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

For the last four years, Whanganui has been selected by the ICF as a Smart21 Intelligent Community, of which the Top7 are chosen from.

Mayor Main, who chairs the Whanganui Digital Leaders Forum, congratulated the other Top7 communities and said Whanganui was in impressive company.

“If you look at the Top7 list for 2016 you can see that we are ranked up there with some huge cities like Montreal, Canada. It’s incredibly exciting.”

The Mayor said the application process was extremely challenging and that years of work have gone in to developing Whanganui’s digital framework.

“Our application focused on urban and regional planning and how it is impacting the way people live, work and create in their cities and towns.

“We started by lobbying for an early ultrafast broadband build, which was completed last year. From there we have been determined to make the most of Whanganui’s digital infrastructure. One of our latest projects, #GetDigital, which we are working on across our regions, helps small businesses get online in order to create more economic opportunities.

“Our goal is to develop a knowledge workforce in Whanganui and New Zealand which means everyone from a barista to a student to a chief executive is confidently using digital technology. Whanganui’s vision is to be a leader in the digital world and we are well on our way. We get calls most weeks from other councils in New Zealand asking about our Smart21 status and asking for advice.”

Mayor Main says Whanganui’s Top7 application is a community wide project, with innovative projects from businesses and not-for-profit groups, as well as from the Whanganui District Council.

“The Top7 award is fantastic but in the end it really is the journey that matters. It’s all about improving our communities and making it a better world for everyone to live in.

“No other New Zealand community has been selected as a Smart21 Intelligent Community, but that doesn’t mean this won’t happen in the future. If other councils or districts want to apply, we are only a phone call away and are happy to talk through the process. One of our aims is to make New Zealand the best place to be when it comes to using digital technology for a sustainable future for everyone.”

ICF will choose the 18th Intelligent Community of the Year from the pool of the Top7 in June at the ICF Summit in Columbus, Ohio.WREMO award

WREMO a global award winner at the IAEM 63rd Annual Conference & EMEX

The 2015 IAEM-Global Public Awareness Award, Division 2 was given to the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO), for its work with communities to create a step-by-step methodology to build community resilience.  This winning entry also received the 2015 IAEM-Oceania Public Awareness Award, Division 2.

The Public Awareness Awards recognize outstanding public awareness programs or public education products related to emergency management, homeland security, and/or disaster preparedness. 

The media release is located here.

Coming up

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.

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.

Pathways to Prosperity

‘Pathways to prosperity’ is a product of year-long research project by the Environmental Defence Society that examined how biodiversity is safeguarded in the development process in New Zealand.

Biodiversity is a key area of responsibility for both territorial and regional councils, and following the EDS publication Vanishing Nature, a need was identified for some thought leadership around the tools available and required to enhance outcomes.  

Pathways will provide local government with useful insights in a full colour, easy to read report around key themes of incorporating biodiversity considerations into strategy, the role of national direction, refining the use of existing tools and developing new fit for purpose approaches to common biodiversity challenges.

Copies of the report can be sourced from EDS online shop and bulk discounts are available by contacting Fiona Driver on 09 480 2565 or