POPULATION: Census 2006: 4,027,947
AREA: 270,467 km2
CAPITAL: Wellington City
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONTRIBUTION TO GDP: -
CURRENCY: New Zealand dollars (NZD)
HEAD OF STATE: HM Queen Elizabeth II
GOVERNOR-GENERAL: Sir Anand Satyanand
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: Prime Minister John Key
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: constitutional monarchy
PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM: unicameral parliament
TATE STRUCTURE: unitary
LANGUAGES: English and Maori (official)
NATIONAL ELECTIONS: last: February 2008; turnout: 76%; next: 2013
LOCAL ELECTIONS: last: Oct 2010%; turnout: 49%; next: March 2012
New Zealand has two levels of government, central and local, which are politically, financially and administratively independent of one another.
New Zealand has no written constitution and the powers of local government are defined in the Local Government Act 2002. The Minister of Local Government is responsible for local government’s core legislation, although s/he holds no oversight role except in situations where a council may have failed to perform its statutory duties. Local government in New Zealand has three types. Regional councils, of which there are 12, are responsible for environmental management policy and regulations with regard to water, air and the coastline. Territorial authorities, of which there are 73 (15 city and 57 district plus the Chatham Islands), deliver a wide range of local services including potable water, sewerage, libraries, parks,
recreation, cultural and community facilities, town planning and economic development. The third type, unitary councils, of which there are five, are territorial councils that also have the additional powers of regional councils. A large proportion, over 50%, of the income of New Zealand’s local governments comes from property tax. Councils and authorities are required to take account of community diversity, the interests of the indigenous Maori population and the interests of both current and future generations when making decisions.
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A Cabinet paper setting out the purpose, framework, timing and terms of reference for the ‘Smarter Government, Stronger Communities: Towards Better Local Government and Public Services’ comprehensive review of local was published in April 2011.
Further information is available from the New Zealand Government website www.beehive.govt.nz.
Local Government New Zealand Borrowing Act 2011 became law in December 2011.