It’s the system of Councils and Boards (also known as local authorities) that make decisions about your community and the delivery of services in your area. It includes your Mayor, Councillors and Community or Local board members.
There are 78 local authorities representing all areas of New Zealand:
- 11 Regional Councils
- 12 City Councils (which are largely urban)
- 54 District Councils
- 1 Auckland Council, (which combined 8 former councils on 1 November 2010).
You can see a list of them all, here: Council maps and websites | Ko Tātou LGNZ
They develop plans and make decisions on how to manage your local area, including the natural and urban environment. This means defining rules, responsibilities and funding for local services and activities including: schools, libraries and parks; planning for where houses, businesses, green areas and streets will go; rules around buildings; managing your rubbish and recycling; organising roads, parking and cycle ways; providing business support; delivering pest control and promoting local arts and cultural events to encourage vibrant, inclusive communities.
Other important activities include making and enforcing bylaws (local laws) such as those around dog control, liquor licensing and noise control; civil defence planning and preparing communities for emergencies.
Under the Local Government Act 2002, Councils must take appropriate account of the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi, to facilitate participation by Māori in local authority decision-making processes. One way of achieving this is through the establishment of Māori wards – see more on that below.
Local government is local democracy in action which means you get to choose who you want to represent you in council. You get to vote for your mayor, your councillors and the people on your community or local boards.
Local elections are run by local councils and held every three years by postal vote.
Anyone over the age of 18 who has enrolled to vote. If you’re enrolled on the electoral roll (which is the law, once you turn 18), you can vote in local elections where you live.
Once you are enrolled, your local council will send you voting papers in the mail.
If you have recently turned 18 and have never voted before, you probably need to enrol. You only have to enrol once in your life, but you do need to keep your contact details up-to-date when you move.
You can enrol to vote if you are 18 years or older, a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and have lived in New Zealand for more than one year continuously at some time in your life.
- Go online to vote.nz or call 0800 36 76 56 to check if you’re enrolled.
- You can enrol or update your details at vote.nz using
- your New Zealand driver licence,
- New Zealand passport or
- RealMe verified identity,
- Call 0800 36 76 56 to ask for an enrolment form to be sent to you.
- You can download an enrolment form from vote.nz
- You can pick up enrolment forms from council service centers and libraries.
The completed enrolment form can be returned to the Electoral Commission in the following ways.
- Taking a photo and uploading it to vote.nz/enrolme
- Emailing the image or form to
- Posting the form to
Freepost 2 Enrol
PO Box 190
If you are already on the Parliamentary Electoral Roll, you will be sent an enrolment update pack by the Enrolment Services at the Electoral Commission. If all your details are correct you don’t need to do anything. Your voting papers will be sent to you in the post.
If you don’t receive an enrolment update pack you are either not enrolled or you have changed address and your pack has been sent to the wrong place. If this happens, you will need to complete an enrolment form.
The Māori roll is only for people of Māori descent. This roll gives tangata whenua clear representation in elections with seats specifically set aside for people of Māori descent. The general roll is for everyone else.
If you’re of Māori descent and enrolling for the first time, you need to decide which electoral roll you want to be on because you can only be on one: the general roll or the Māori roll.
If you are already enrolled but wish to change the roll you are on, you can only do so during the Māori Electoral Option which takes place every five or six years after the Census. The next Māori Electoral Option is scheduled for 2024
Local government elections are held by postal vote. Voting documents, including an envelope to return your vote with the postage already paid, will be sent to all eligible voters by post during September 2022. Votes needed to be returned by 12 noon on Saturday 8 October 2022.
Some places in Aotearoa New Zealand use single transferable voting in local elections. Under this system, voters rank candidates in their order of preference. You would write “1” next to the name of your favourite candidate, “2” next to your second favourite candidate and so on.
With STV you still only have one vote but by indicating your preferences for all the candidates, your single vote can be given (transferred) to your next favourite candidate if your most preferred candidate is so popular, they don’t need all their votes to reach the required number to get elected.
Under the FPP (First Past the Post) electoral system, the candidate with the most votes wins. You get one vote and that vote goes to one candidate.
A Council can choose to establish Māori wards for their city or district which supports achieving Māori representation in decision making. The Māori wards sit alongside the general wards of each city or district and elected members have the same roles and responsibilities as those elected from the general wards.
Like the Māori Parliamentary seats, Māori wards establish areas where only those on the Māori Parliamentary electoral roll vote for the candidates in that Ward.
To be eligible to stand a candidate must be:
- A New Zealand citizen (by birth or citizenship ceremony); and
- Enrolled as a Parliamentary elector (anywhere in New Zealand); and
- Nominated by two electors whose names appear on the electoral roll within the ward a candidate is standing for.
Candidates in Māori Wards do not need to be of Māori descent, but they do need to be on the parliamentary electoral roll.
However, you cannot stand for both a General ward and a Māori ward at the same time.
Only people enrolled on the Māori electoral roll for the area can vote for candidates standing in their Māori ward.
Electors on the Māori electoral roll can only vote for candidates from a Māori Ward and for the Mayor, while electors on the General electoral roll can only vote for candidates from a General Ward and the Mayor.
No. Once elected, all elected members, whether elected from General or Māori wards, take a formal oath of office to represent the entire community.