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The Reorganisation Process


Local government reorganisation means changes to the structure or the responsibilities of local authorities. It could involve:

  • alteration to boundaries
  • the union of councils
  • the establishment of a new council(s)
  • the abolition of a council(s)
  • the transfer of responsibilities between councils
  • the establishment of joint committees
  • the establishment, alteration of boundaries, or abolition of local boards.

The current two-tier local authority structure, comprising a regional council and a district/city council for an area, covers most of the country. However, some areas have unitary authorities which are responsible for both regional council and district/city council functions.

Unitary authorities are currently in place for Auckland, Gisborne, Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman. In addition, the Chatham Islands Council is also effectively a unitary authority.

Reorganisation involves taking another look at these structures, comprising 11 regional councils and 67 district/city councils (including unitary authorities) and/or their responsibilities.

Many district/city councils have community boards to represent particular local communities within their area. Auckland has a different structure of local boards which formally share some decision-making with the governing body of Auckland Council.

Changes to the Auckland local boards or the establishment of local boards in other areas covered by unitary authorities, come within the definition of local government reorganisation. The establishment of joint committees between councils or other public bodies also comes within this definition.

The purpose of local government reorganisation is to promote good local government by enabling and facilitating improvements to local governance. This purpose, set out in the Local Government Act 2002, along with the required detailed reorganisation process in Schedule 3 of the Act, were amended in 2019.  

Information relating to the new detailed reorganisation process is currently being worked on by the Commission and will be set out here shortly.