Local government in New Zealand consists of 78 local, regional and unitary councils. The elected members of these councils are chosen every three years by voters in their communities to represent them.
The local government sector consists of:
- 11 regional councils;
- 61 territorial authorities – 11 are city councils and 50 are district councils; and
- 6 unitary councils – which are territorial authorities with regional council responsibilities.
The 78 councils have about 1600 elected members. The key elected members’ roles are mayors, regional council chairs, councillors, and local board and community board members.
Regional councils are primarily concerned with environmental resource management, flood control, air and water quality, pest control, and, in specific cases, public transport, regional parks and bulk water supply.
Territorial authorities (city and district councils) 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.
Unitary councils have the responsibilities of both a regional council and a territorial authority.