LGNZ meets with Minister for Rural Communities

13 December 2023

LGNZ’s Rural Sector Chair Alex Walker, National Council member Toby Adams and LGNZ staff met with the Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Patterson yesterday. The Minister was extremely engaged and has big ambitions to deliver for rural communities and work alongside local government.

The Minister has accepted a standing invite to R&P meetings. As a three-way coalition government, establishing strong relationships across the three parties is critical for local government to progress the many and varied issues we need to work with central government on, so this is a great step in the right direction.

Typically, this portfolio hasn’t had much interaction with local government but the Minister was keen to change that during his tenure. As someone with a background in farming, the Minister said he’s highly motivated to make sure rural communities thrive and in fact described the role of Minster for Rural Communities as one that ‘spins his wheels’.

Issues in rural communities have long been articulated by R&P councils and it was pleasing that the Minister’s aligned with our concerns. These include bolstering access to primary health care which increasingly is ensuring there’s good access to rural mental health support, access to education, increased police presence and boosting connectivity which includes roads and digital connections. LGNZ raised Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs as a great example of localism in action, and the Minister was keen to champion the programme within Government and advocate to take simple steps to make things easier for councils to deliver the programme on the ground using a locally-led approach. We also articulated the real challenges of keeping rural priorities front and centre when it comes to emergency responses and other resilience issues.

LGNZ and the Minister’s office will be working together to develop a set of priorities we can progress together in the next triennium. We will keep you updated on this work.