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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




Local government in New Zealand may be broadly defined as that element of the whole structure of government which is concerned essentially with the administration of affairs of peculiarly local significance. Each unit of local government, or local authority as it is usually termed, owes its origin, powers, and functions to some New Zealand statute. The right of local authorities to legislate for their own districts and to impose local taxation is exercised at delegation from the Central Government. Parliament is continually enacting legislation determining or varying the existence, powers, and functions of local authorities. Yet, notwithstanding their dependent relationship with Central Government, local authorities are entirely distinct legal entities, or corporations, and are by no means merely agents of the central authority. In effect they are one of the two complementary levels of administration which form the New Zealand system of government.


Bryan David Crompton, M.A., Executive Officer, Advisory and Research Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington and Herbert Williamson, Research Officer, Local Government Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.