Speaking at meetings

Public participation is a maximum of 60 minutes at the beginning of any meeting of Council, or committee meetings that are open to the public.

If you want to appear before a meeting to speak, you can do so as:

  • a member of the public
  • a person or a group of people with a specific purpose or common view, an interest group or organisation.

You first need to apply for approval - see the following guidance information.

Note that the process for speaking at District Licensing Committee meetings is different. For more information, see:

Alcohol Licensing - Public Input

Criteria for speaking at meetings

The public can speak to most agenda items (though requests are subject to the approval of the Chair). In addition, participation can be declined under Standing Order 31.5. This Standing Order states:

31.5: Public participation not allowed for certain business.

Public participation will not permitted in relation to the following agenda items for a meeting:

a) minutes being presented to a meeting for authentication; or
b) reports that set out recommendations arising from a statutory hearing process.

The exclusion in standing order 31.5 is particularly relevant for speaking on District Plan Change agenda items at Council meetings. When such matters are before the Council, this is likely to be the final decision-making step required under the statutory process contained in the Resource Management Act 1991.

Accordingly, the Council is legally constrained in the matters that it may consider when making its decision and cannot take into consideration the views of the public at this stage in the process because it may prejudice the whole decision-making process.

If you need further information from Councillors or Council staff, phone the Council's contact centre on (04) 499 4444 or email your question to info@wcc.govt.nz. Please don't use the meetings as an opportunity to get this information.

Translation of Participation Information

Applying to speak at a meeting

If you want to address the meeting as a member of the public, or as a person or a group of people with a specific purpose or common view (an interest group or organisation), your application must be with Democracy Services before 12 noon on the working day before the meeting you want to address.

If you miss the deadline and if, in the opinion of the Chair, the subject is a matter of urgency or major public interest, then the Chair may use discretion to waive the requirements for notice.

You can bring your application in person to the Council offices at 12 Manners Street or contact:

Democracy Services

Phone: 04 803 8334
Email: public.participation@wcc.govt.nz

You need to provide:

  • your name and contact details
  • which meeting you would like to speak to.

After applications have closed, Democracy Services will speak with the Chair of the meeting who will approve or decline your application.

Democracy Services will contact you about the outcome of your application.

Preparing for the meeting

Talk to Democracy Services if you are going to:

  • make a PowerPoint presentation (these need to be emailed to Democracy Services by 4pm on the working day before the meeting)
  • provide handouts (to find out how many copies you need to bring with you)
  • table supplementary material.

At the meeting

Sit in the public gallery and wait for the meeting to start.

The Democracy Advisor will be in the meeting room 10 - 15 minutes before the meeting begins and will:

  • register those who have approval to present / speak to the meeting
  • take any handouts you've brought with you and distribute them
  • answer your questions.

The Chair may begin the meeting by running through some housekeeping matters before calling you forward.

Making your presentation

When it is your turn to speak, the Chair will formally introduce you and invite you to move to the place from where you will address the meeting. Depending on the meeting and the meeting room, this could be a lectern or the table.

For more information on how to prepare and what to expect, view the following:

Have Your Say - Making an Oral Submission (64KB PDF)Text version (48KB DOC)

Restrictions on speaking at meetings

There are provisions in standing orders 31.2 and 31.3 for restricting speaking at meetings. This standing orders state:

31.2 Public participation requirements and limits 

A maximum of 60 minutes will be set aside for public participation at the commencement of any public meeting of the Council or committee, provided a written notice has been given to the chief executive by 12:00 noon of the working day prior to the meeting concerned. The chairperson has the discretion to increase the 60 minutes time limit. 

The public participation procedure does not apply in respect of any hearing, including the hearing of submissions where the local authority, committee or subcommittee sits in a quasi-judicial capacity.

31.3 Grounds for refusing requests for Public participation or for termination of address 

The chairperson has the discretion to refuse requests for public participation or to terminate a presentation at any time where: 
(a) The speaker is repeating views presented by an earlier speaker at the same meeting; or 
(b) The speaker is being repetitious, disrespectful or offensive; or 
(c) where the person or group of people with a specific purpose or common view an interest group or organisation has been heard on the same item at a subcommittee or committee prior to it being referred to a committee or the Council for consideration or decision; or 
(d) the public participation relates to a matter that is subject to legal proceedings or a statutory hearing process, including the hearings of submissions where the local authority or committee sits in as a quasijudicial capacity; or 
(e) the item does not fall within the scope of the agenda for a Council meeting; or 
(f) the meetings are scheduled for the purpose of oral hearings only. 

If public participation is declined under (e), the chairperson must refer the public participant to the relevant committee. If the chairperson is on a leave of absence or has tendered an apology in advance of the meeting, or has declared a conflict of interest on the item of business, the authority under this standing order may be exercised by:

(a) the deputy chairperson or acting chairperson (if such an appointment has been made); or 
(b) the chief executive

Speaking time

Standing Orders places a limit of 5 minutes on any individual speaker addressing a meeting, and 10 minutes on a person or a group of people with a specific purpose or common view, an interest group or organisation addressing the meeting.

If you are appearing as a member of the public, you will have 5 minutes to address the meeting.

If you are appearing as a person or a group of people with a specific purpose or common view, an interest group or organisation addressing the meeting, you will have 10 minutes in total for all speakers.

Use your speaking time effectively. If there is time left at the end of your presentation, the Chair will facilitate any questions from Councillors. These must fall within the time given to you.

Please note that the time limit for a speaker may be extended at the discretion of the Chairperson.

After the meeting

Anything distributed or tabled at the meeting will become part of the public record for the meeting and will be:

  • made available with the minutes (including your name)
  • put up on this website.

Community Board participation

If you would like to present or speak at a Tawa or Makara / Ohariu Community Board meeting, advise Democracy Services beforehand.