< June 2022 newsletter


Radical changes to local government afoot

A Ministerial review into the future for Local Government is underway “to consider how New Zealand’s system of local democracy and governance will need to evolve over the next 30 years, in order to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders, and actively embody the Treaty partnership”. Ārewa ake te Kaupapa – Raising the platform

​​The Review is taking place in three stages.

The first stage “Setting The Priorities” involved initial scoping and early engagement with local government and selected organisations to help take a future-focused look at the local governance system and identify key issues and lines of inquiry. The INTERIM REPORT - RAISING THE PLATFORM, released September 2021, reflects the results of that work and signals broad lines of inquiry for the next stage. If you want to provide feedback on these priorities, fill out the priority questions survey HERE by 30 June 2022.

Stage two of the review involves ​​speaking with a range of people (local and central government, iwi and hapū, and other groups and individuals) about the “Five Key Shifts” that the panel believes are essential to a future system of local governance. The panel has produced a discussion document - SHARING OUR THINKING - and is seeking feedback for consideration. See information below on two upcoming public Q&A WEBINARS on the 17 & 20 June. If you want to feed back on these shifts, fill in the key shifts survey HERE by 30 June 2022.

The third stage will see the panel report to the Minister of Local Government with draft findings and recommendations. This report is due to be released mid-October 2022. A formal consultation on the review panel’s draft recommendations will then be held. This feedback will be considered before delivering the final report in April 2023.

Here is a summary of the ways you can have your say: 

  1. Fill out the stage one priority questions survey HERE by 30 June 2022.
  2. Join one of the stage two public webinars, (on 17 & 20 June), and complete the key shifts survey HERE by 30 June 2022
  3. Send a submission through the Get Vocal in Your Local online tool. This is aimed at young people, but anyone can take part. Fill in the survey HERE by 30 June 2022
  4. Get in touch through their contact page or follow them on social media HERE or email them at [email protected]

All feedback and submissions on stages one and two are due by 30 June 2022. 

STAGE TWO PUBLIC WEBINARS

Join one of two webinars (or both) to listen to an update, to ask questions, and to have a say on what local government could look like in 2050. Anyone can attend. They are to be held on:

Friday, 17 June 2022 at 10 - 11AM. Register for the event HERE
Monday, 20 June 2022 at 7 - 8PM. Register for this event HERE

What’s up for discussion?

The ‘five key shifts’ proposed by the review panel are:

  1. Strengthened local democracy 
  2. Stronger focus on wellbeing 
  3. Authentic relationship with hapū/iwi/Māori – one that “enables self-determination, shared authority and prosperity”.
  4. Genuine partnership between central government and local government 
  5. More equitable funding 

A full overview of these key shifts can be found HERE 

If you’re uncomfortable asking a question, send your questions to us and we’ll try to get them answered. Email [email protected] by next Wednesday, June 15 2022.

If you don’t want to wade through the whole document, please see a brief commentary on some of the issues of concern below.

REFERENCES

DIA: The Future for Local Government

Review Panel: Review into the Future for Local Government 

Review Panel: Public Webinars: a korero about the future for local government

Democracy Action: See Future for Local Government Review signals Treaty-based local governance, November 2021

For an insight into the ideas informing the review panel's proposals, take a look at the reports and research papers on the Future for Local Government website by clicking HERE. Of particular interest are two papers by Professor Dominic O'Sullivan (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu). The papers consider what equal participation and partnership between Māori and the Crown mean for local government, and introduce the idea of “differentiated” citizenship.


ISSUES OF CONCERN ARISING FROM THE “FIVE KEY SHIFTS” DISCUSSION DOCUMENT (STAGE TWO OF THE REVIEW INTO THE FUTURE FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT)

The Review into the Future for Local Government has been asked to reimagine local governance 30 years from now, looking at what local government does (its roles, functions and partnerships), how it does it (representation and governance), and how it pays for it (funding and financing), in order to “improve the wellbeing of New Zealand communities and the environment, and actively embody the Treaty partnership.”

The review panel has proposed five key “shifts” required in order to achieve these outcomes. They cover local governments’ role in promoting wellbeing and equity in partnership with hapū/iwi/Māori and central government; and public participation in local government in partnership with hapū/iwi/Māori. 

These proposed shifts have a lot in common with the ideas promoted in He Puapua - the radical plan to dispense with democratic equality, and to embed the Treaty of Waitangi into our constitutional arrangements. 

He Puapua calls for our democracy to be “broken”, replacing it with a dual system whereby hapū/iwi/Māori and the Crown are separate political entities that have separate institutions and authority over the people and places of New Zealand. Additionally, it suggests Maori must be able to participate in Crown governance, citing article 3 of the Treaty. (See p.11 He Puapua)

This is the model that informs many of the reforms we see today - for instance, in health, water services, education, and resource management. 

The ideas promoted in He Puapua can be seen throughout the proposed key “shifts” for the future of local government, including the call for “hybrid systems [of democracy] to complement elected members, including iwi/Māori and appointed experts,” and for local government to have an “authentic and effective relationship with Hapū/Iwi… beyond representation at the governance table, to achieve equitable outcomes for Māori.”

Or put another way the “opportunity for Hapū/iwi/Māori to be involved in decision making, to be a decision-maker and deliverer of services and activities (exercising tino rangatiratanga). This would require “additional capacity for iwi/Māori to participate in local governance.” Sharing our thinking - Future for Local Government

The review calls for local government to move from a “traditional focus on infrastructure service delivery” to a focus on “complex wellbeing challenges including economic and social equity and climate change action,” in partnership with iwi and community. 

To further the quest for equity the review calls for “flexible general and special purpose financing tools” that “support principles of equity/wellbeing,” “taking account of communities’ ability to pay.” As the panel has refrained from defining what they mean by equity and wellbeing, they have formulated a recipe for those in charge, (no longer necessarily to be democratically elected), to decide how much each member of the community pay based on a perception of the community’s ability to pay.

 

N.B. This commentary is merely a snapshot of some of the issues that are of concern in the review panel’s discussion document, ‘Sharing our thinking.’ We encourage you to read this document and participate in the public webinars, where you will have a chance to challenge the panel on their ideas. Following this, please make a submission, which is due by 30 June.

Go back to the June 2022 newsletter


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