A panel has spent the past two years reviewing the state of local government, and has now concluded an overhaul is needed.
The Future for Local Government report - He piki tūranga, he piki kōtuku, which can be found here - said the relationship between central government and local government needed to be improved to better serve New Zealand communities. The report laid out 17 recommendations under five different themes.
Mayor Max Baxter gave the following comment on the report and it's findings -
"The review on the Future for Local Government (FfLG) highlights the massive political, financial and directional change that needs to take place within local government. The vision, recommendations and suggestions in the report come as no surprise. They come as no surprise as we are dealing with Local Government that is at a real crossroads when it comes to determining its relevance in supporting the people it represents. The recommendations suggest that local government need to lead the change in building community resilience, intergenerational wellbeing and strong local democracy. I absolutely support the vision but am somewhat sceptical about the possibility in getting bipartisan support from our 2 main political parties, that is fundamental in delivering on the vision in shaping a successful future. Without the devolution of responsibility, resources and funding the challenges for local government will not change.
We know that when it comes to serving communities, it is best achieved at a local level as demonstrated during Covid, Cyclone Gabrielle and the success of local employment hubs. The five key shifts the FfLG panel identified are:
Strengthened local democracy
Authentic relationships with hapū/iwi and Māori
A focus on wellbeing
Genuine partnership between central and local government
More equitable funding
The future for local government is very exciting if egos can be left behind, the vision is embraced and we are all genuine in the belief we can implement the necessary change for a better future for all people living in Aotearoa New Zealand."