Wellington Region reorganisation
The LGC invited the Wellington region councils to provide a written response to the recommendations in the report Strengthening the Wellington Region – Recommendations to councils by 30 April 2018.
On 14 March 2018, a written response from the Wellington Region Mayoral Forum was sent to Sir Wira Gardiner, Chair of the LGC.
On 9 July 2018, Sir Wira Gardiner sent a written response to the Wellington Region Mayoral Forum.
In July 2017, the LGC issued a final proposal for a Wairarapa District Council. A 3-week postal ballot was held during November and December of 2017, and it was determined that the majority of votes opposed the proposal. This result is binding and brings an end to the LGC’s process in the Wairarapa.
In December 2017, the LGC released a report entitled Strengthening the Wellington Region – Recommendations to councils. This report follows on from work that has been carried out by the LGC and councils to determine whether there were any alternatives to amalgamation that could provide some of the same benefits. The report recommends joint action in the areas of transport, land-use planning, and the three-water services.
In March 2016, the LGC released a report entitled Wellington Regional Transport: Options for Change.
In a July 2016 progress update, the LGC announced that it was continuing its exploration of transport options, while undertaking a detailed assessment of a single combined Wairarapa District Council. It also announced its intentions to undertake an analysis of the 23 existing spatial plans and strategies of the region to identify any gaps, overlaps and inefficiencies before considering whether spatial planning should be a feature of local government arrangements in the region.
In the Kāpiti Coast District Council submission on the Draft Proposal for Reorganisation of Local Government in Wellington, Council argued that the benefits of amalgamation could include the linking of regional infrastructure to regional planning; a better voice for the wider region, particularly on business and economic development matters; more efficient regulatory systems; and a reduction in compliance costs. At the same time, however, the disadvantages of amalgamation could include the loss of local democracy and local voice, as well as the cost of transition. Council favoured a poll of residents to decide on the proposal, with the recommendation that the LGC demonstrate demonstrable support for the proposal from the communities across the region before moving on to a final proposal.
In June 2015, the LGC announced that it would not proceed with the proposal for a single Wellington council, but would instead work with communities across the region to identify other options to promote more effective local government.
Following discussions with the Wellington Region Mayoral Forum, chief executives and councils, the parties agreed to progress work in three main areas:
- regional spatial planning; and
- the potential for local government amalgamation in the Wairarapa.
Water services and economic development were later added to this list.
In December 2014, the LGC released a Draft Proposal for Reorganisation of Local Government in Wellington.
In 2013, a joint Working Party on Local Government Reform – comprised of elected representatives from Kāpiti Coast District Council, Wellington City Council, Porirua City Council and GWRC – was established with the aim of developing a preferred model for local government in the Wellington region. In March 2013, the joint Working Party released a report entitled Realising the potential of the Wellington Region – Conclusions of the joint Working Party on Local Government Reform, which proposed two options for reorganisation in the region. The first option was to maintain the status quo, while the second option was a single city (with either a single tier of representation consisting of one mayor and up to 29 councillors or with a second tier of representation consisting of a mayor and councillors supported by eight local boards).
To gauge levels of support for either option, the Kāpiti Coast District Council then followed up with a second resident option survey that was carried out in May 2013. This 2013 Governance Reform Poll found that 55% of residents preferred the status quo, while 43% preferred the single city. Of those that preferred the single city option, 51% preferred the two-tier version. Across all respondents, 65% stated the existence of local boards was important.
While the joint Working Party was carrying out its work to develop a preferred model for local government in the Wellington region, the Kāpiti Coast District Council decided it would be prudent to investigate the financial implications of the formation of a unitary council for the Kāpiti Coast District. As such, the Kāpiti Coast District Council commissioned Morrison Low and Associates to undertake an initial, high-level, financial investigation into the formation of a Kāpiti Coast Unitary Authority. In April 2013, a report entitled Financial Investigation of a Kāpiti Coast Unitary was released.
In an effort to further the discussion, Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and Porirua City Council initiated the establishment of an independent Wellington Region Local Government Review Panel. The Panel issued a report entitled Future Wellington – An Issues Paper on Local Government Reform in the Wellington Region.
Kāpiti Coast District Council declined to partner with GWRC on the independent review panel (see Resolutions from Council meeting on 12 April 2012), but did agree to work alongside the other district and city councils to learn more about local resident and ratepayer opinion. In June 2012, Kāpiti Coast District Council released a discussion document on Local government reform in Kāpiti, which was then followed up by a 2012 Districtwide Resident Opinion Survey that was presented to Council on 23 August 2012.
In June 2011, a report on PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Wellington Region Councils Governance Review was released. MartinJenkins Ltd reported back to the Mayoral Forum in September 2011 on the 165 submissions that were received on the report, but was unable to draw any reliable conclusions.
In 2010, the Wellington Region Mayoral Forum commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a regional governance review.
In October 2009, Central Government released a package of reforms aimed at improving the transparency, accountability and financial management of local government throughout New Zealand. The formation of the new Auckland Council sparked speculation within other regions – particularly those centred round major cities – about whether amalgamation could be right for them.
More information on Local Government Reform in New Zealand
General information on Local Government Reform is available from these websites:
- Local Government Commission website
- Royal Commission on Auckland Governance website
- Better Local Government - Department of Internal Affairs website