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Why become involved in local body elections

What is local government?

Local government is the system of locally elected members representing their communities and making decisions on their behalf. It includes representatives on regional, city and district councils and the decisions elected local representatives make can have a big impact on our day to day lives.

Councils are involved in providing community services, regulating activities and achieving community goals, and have a responsibility to report to their communities in a clear and accountable way. They work closely with central government and with other organisations, public bodies, businesses and citizens.

They have many powers including the appointment of a chief executive, they set our rates, make bylaws and decisions on spending and how much money to borrow, as well as the buying and selling of public land.

What are Local Body Elections?

Elections of members of local authorities are held once every three years, on the second Saturday in October. The next elections are coming up on the 12th October 2019. These elections will include selecting representatives for regional councils, city and district councils, community boards and local boards, as well as district health boards and licensing trusts.

What does a Council manage?

Councils have developed to lead and represent their communities. Their role is to enable local decision-making and action on behalf of communities in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses. They must engage with their communities and encourage community participation in decision-making, while considering the needs of people currently living in communities and those who will live there in the future.

Regional councils’ responsibilities include:

  • Sustainable regional well-being.

  • Managing the effects of using freshwater, land, air and coastal waters, by developing regional policy statements and the issuing of consents.

  • Managing rivers, mitigating soil erosion and flood control.

  • Regional emergency management and civil defence preparedness.

  • Regional land transport planning and contracting passenger services.

  • Harbour navigation and safety, oil spills and other marine pollution.

District and city councils’ responsibilities include:

  • Sustainable district well-being.

  • The provision of local infrastructure, including water, sewerage, stormwater, roads.

  • Environmental safety and health, district emergency management and civil defence preparedness, building control, public health inspections and other environmental health matters.

  • Controlling the effects of land use (including hazardous substances, natural hazards and indigenous biodiversity), noise, and the effects of activities on the surface of lakes and rivers.

In the case of Auckland, as of 1 November 2010, the 1 regional council and 7 territorial authorities that make up the Auckland area were amalgamated further to form the Auckland Council unitary authority, which takes responsibility for both regional and territorial responsibilities.

What is the purpose of the elections?

Individuals elect representatives to local authorities to work on solutions for local issues. It’s important to get involved in the elections because of the wide-reaching powers held by a local council.

The role of councillors includes providing an infrastructural and planning framework in which communities can grow and the economy can flourish. While there is no specific job description for councillors, as representatives and leaders of their communities, their role involves setting policies, making regulatory decisions and reviewing council performance. The elections also include voting for the role of Mayor for a three-year term.

How can you get involved?

Nominations opened for candidates on 19th July and have to be sent to the electoral officer for the council, district health board or licensing trust by 21st August 2019. Electors have until mid-August to get on the roll before it closes, after which, if you are not on the roll or their roll details are wrong, you may cast a special vote (but to do so you must apply to enroll before voting).

Towards the end of September, voting documents will delivered to households throughout the region and can be posted back to electoral officers as soon as you have voted. These early votes are processed, but not counted, as they come in.

To find information about candidates you can read the profile statement from each candidate, which is included with the voting documents posted to electors, as well as on the council’s website. Candidates will also attend public meetings and use advertising to promote themselves. There is also likely to be healthy debate in the local news media.

The election of council members is a democratic process and relies on the public getting involved. If you are serious about the future of Auckland, check you are on the roll and remember to vote!

Want to know more about the Auckland Council Elections?

The next local body elections will be conducted by postal vote in October 2019 and key election dates can be found here.

Want to become a candidate? being an Auckland Council elected member is an opportunity for you to be part of governing the largest city in the country and the largest council in Australasia. Nominations open for New Zealand Citizens aged over 18 years on 19th July 2019. Information about standing as a candidate can be found here

Key dates for local authority elections 2019

1 July 2019: electoral commission enrolment campaign starts.

19 July 2019: nominations open for candidates. Nominations have to be sent to the electoral officer for the council, district health board or licensing trust. Rolls open for inspection at council offices and other sites locally.

16 August 2019: nominations close at 12 noon. Rolls close. After this date, anyone who is entitled to vote and who is not enrolled as an elector, or whose details are incorrectly recorded on the roll, will have to cast a ‘special vote’.

21 August 2019: election date and candidates’ names publicised by electoral officers.

20 - 25 September 2019: voting documents delivered to households. Electors can post the documents back to electoral officers as soon as they have voted.

12 October 2019: polling day — the voting documents must be at the council before voting closes at 12 noon. Preliminary results (i.e. once all ‘ordinary’ votes are counted) will be available as soon as possible afterwards.

17 - 23 October 2019 (or as soon as practicable): official results (including all valid ordinary and special votes) declared.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

Tracy is a Planner with an M.Sc. in Resource Management.

Tracy has worked assisting Senior Planners with the preparation and lodgement of resource consent applications, as well as planning. She also provided support in client liaison, contractor engagement and general communications.

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