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Lobbying Toolkit

Your guide to councils

4 February 2019

Councils are one of the tourism industry's most important partners. They invest in and support infrastructure used by both visitors and residents, such as museums and stadia, events and festivals. They invest in promotional activities and agencies including Regional Tourism Organisations and i-SITE Visitor Centres. Providing great experiences is at the heart of a successful visitor industry, and councils play a vital role in helping to shape and deliver those experiences.

In turn, international and domestic visitors add vibrancy to communities, offer business opportunities for residents and support jobs. Only a fraction of visitor spending occurs in tourism businesses like accommodation and attractions. Much of their spending is in shops, cafes, petrol stations and other local businesses. 

Local government elections

How to participate in your local council

TIA local government advocacy

About councils in NZ

Local Government New Zealand


Local government elections 

Local government elections are held once every three years. This includes elections of regional councils, city and district councils, community board and local boards, district health boards and licensing trusts.

Go to the Local Government New Zealand website to see council profiles.


How to participate in your local council

There are many ways you can participate in local government and be involved in council decision-making processes.

These include:

Council consultations's consultation across government page allows both central and local government organisations to post consultations they have open. You can search the listings by topic to find out what’s happening in an area of interest, like resource management or long-term planning.


TIA local government advocacy

TIA made submissions on around 70 council draft Long Term Plans (2018-2028), highlighting the benefits of tourism to communities, and encouraging councils to recognise the value of tourism in their plans. 

See all our Long Term Plan submissions here.

Read our local government submissions.

Read our policy positions relating to local government. 

About councils in NZ

Types of councils

Councils can differ widely in relation to activities they undertake, as long as they have consulted their communities in making the decisions. As a result, there is considerable diversity in the range of activities that councils provide, reflecting the different circumstances that cities, towns and communities find themselves in.

Regional Councils

Regional councils are primarily concerned with environmental resource management, flood control, air and water quality, pest control, and, in some cases, public transport, regional parks and bulk water supply.

Regional council responsibilities include:

  • Managing the effects of using freshwater, land, air and coastal waters
  • 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

Some district and city councils also have the powers of regional councils. These are referred to as unitary authorities.

Territorial Authorities

TAs are either city or district councils (there are no differences in the way that city and district councils operate).

TAs are responsible for a wide range of local services including roads, water reticulation, sewerage and refuse collection, libraries, parks, recreation services, local regulations, community and economic development, and town planning.

Territorial authorities’ responsibilities include:

  • the provision of local infrastructure, including water, sewerage, storm water, roads, environmental safety and health
  • district emergency management and civil defence preparedness
  • building control
  • promotional activities (tourism, events, etc)
  • 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



Councils raise much of their funding through rates, investments, fees and charges. Central government also provides some funding or subsidies towards particular activities, mainly roading.



Long Term Plan

The Long Term Plan sets out a local authority’s priorities in the medium to long term. It is a document required under the Local Government Act 2002

Annual Plan

An annual plan must be prepared by a council each year, and it must be adopted before the commencement of the year in which it operates. Councils operate on a 1 July-30 June financial year. 


List of Councils

See council profiles by name, region and type.

Find contact details for your local council.


Local Government New Zealand 

Local Government New Zealand represents the national interests of councils and leads best practice in the local government sector. It provides advocacy and policy services, business support, advice and training to its members to assist them to build successful communities throughout New Zealand. 

Source: Some of the information on this page was sourced from the Department of Internal Affairs

Thanks to our strategic partners

Thanks to our strategic partners

Thanks to our strategic partners