Recognising Local Government's Place in New Zealand's Constitution

21 July 2013

The Local Government sector has endorsed Wellington's proposal to ensure Local Government’s role is recognised within New Zealand’s Constitution.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown proposed the move at the 2013 LGNZ Annual General Meeting in Hamilton, Sunday 21st July , which was seconded by Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio and passed unanimously.

"As our constitutional framework has developed since the first laws were drafted in New Zealand, the role of local government has been forgotten," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

"Current constitutional conversations talk about terms of national government, whether or not our constitution is codified, the role of the Treaty and other important issues. They have been silent on the role of Councils, Mayors and Councillors and Board Members.

"Given New Zealand is conducting a wide-ranging constitutional review it is now time to rectify that omission. The role of Local Government needs to be recognised and included.

"Local government forms part of the social contract between citizens and government. We are part of the rule of law, part of the country's representative democracy.

"A constitutional framework would give a defined platform for a partnership approach with Central Government and other sectors and keep the value of Local Government on the agenda.

"Local government in New Zealand has a wide range of roles, responsibilities and obligations. New Zealanders interact with local government and use our services every day of the year," she says. "Local government is the layer that has the most direct connection with people and communities so its important that we have a voice and a role in New Zealand’s constitution."

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown added that "The Capital is the heart of New Zealand’s democracy and it is fitting that Wellington City Council should propose a simple but symbolically significant amendment to the 1986 Constitution Act".

At the LGNZ AGM today, Wellington City proposed a remit for consideration by delegates. The remit proposed the addition of a statement that gives constitutional expression to local government in the Act and it was endorsed by delegates.

With the endorsement of the Local Government AGM, Wellington City Council will submit its proposal to the Constitutional Review Panel.