A subordinate position
Local government in New Zealand is independent of, but subordinate to, central government. Local government gives consents under the Resource Management Act for different activities. The boundaries of local authorities are defined by the Local Government Commission.
Territorial local authorities
In September 2011 there were 67 city (mainly urban) or district (rural, or both rural and urban) councils. Some local matters were handled by 147 community boards, which are independently elected. They were funded by and reported to a city or district council. City and district councils provide a wide range of services, from public libraries to waste-water treatment.
In 2011, 11 regional councils had responsibility for the environment and public transport. Regions can embrace several cities or districts. In addition six councils were ‘unitary authorities’ – a single elected council acting as both regional and city or district council.
City, district and regional councils and community boards are elected at triennial local elections. The mayors of cities and districts are directly elected.
City, district and regional councils have the power to levy rates (taxes on land and buildings) to fund their activities.