Future for local government

Future for Local Government

Find the latest information on the independent review of local government.  A review welcomed by LGNZ, looking forward 30 years and with the aim to ensure councils are future-fit and the communities they serve are strong, healthy and sustainable.

It’s been more than 30 years since the last review.  Much has changed and will change.   Envisioning Aotearoa in 30 years’ time as a thriving, robust system of local democracy is the ultimate outcome. 

“This is a futures-thinking exercise and it’s at the heart of what the next generation of local government must be,” says Minister for Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  

We will be seeking the review to lock in the strengths of the existing system and to introduce better ways /new ways for councils to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their communities, Treaty partners and future generations.  They are the place-makers and champions of local wellbeing.  

The review panel will have an interim report back to the Minister by September 2021, a draft report by September 2022 and a final report in April 2023.


Media releases

Future for local government initiative a historic opportunity for New Zealand - Stuart Crosby, President, LGNZ

“We encourage all New Zealanders to engage with the Future for Local Government – this is your opportunity to shape local democracy, the closest form of government to the people.”

Independent review to explore future for local government - Minister for Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta

“I have asked the review panel to consider what local government does, how it does it, and how it pays for it. From there, they will explore what local government’s future looks like, including roles; functions and partnership; representation and governance; funding and financing.”


Independent review panel members

The review panel, led by Jim Palmer, have a mix of professional and cultural backgrounds, bringing a wealth of skills and experience to this important work.  Jim will be joined by John Ombler,l QSO, Antoine Coffin, Gael Surgenor and Penny Hulse.


  • Jim Palmer, recently retired as the Chief Executive of the Waimakariri District Council. Mr Palmer has leadership roles in the Greater Christchurch Partnership and the Canterbury Interim Regional Skills Leadership Group. Mr Palmer has had a wide range of prior governance experience on various groups including Co-chair of Canterbury Covid Recovery Oversight Group and Chair of the Canterbury Chief Executives Forum.

Panel members

  • John Ombler, QSO, has been a senior public servant who has held a wide range of leadership roles, most recently as Deputy State Services Commissioner, Controller of the All-of-Government COVID-19 response and Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He was also the Acting CEO of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (2014 to 2016), and held General Manager and Conservator roles at the Department of Conservation (1989-2007).
  • Antoine Coffin, a director/consultant at Te Onewa Consultants, which works with private and public sector clients in strategic planning, RMA decision-making, infrastructure and building relationships with tangata whenua. Mr Coffin has 25 years’ experience in Māori resource management, cultural heritage planning, community engagement and facilitation, and has worked across multiple sectors in regional and local government, corporate organisations and museums.
  • Gael Surgenor, General Manager of Community and Social Innovation at Auckland Council (including leading the Southern Initiative, a place-based approach to wellbeing) and a member of the South Auckland Social Wellbeing Board and Chair of the Auckland Co-Design Lab Governance Group Collaboration of Auckland Council and ten government agencies.
  • Penny Hulse, currently a board member of Kainga Ora, Auckland Museum and Aktive (regional sport body), as well as a trustee of the Community Waitakere Trust. Ms Hulse was the Deputy Mayor of Auckland Council (2010 to 2016) and retired as a Councillor in 2019 after a 27-year period in roles for Waitakere City Council and Auckland Council.