Institute for Governance and Policy Studies


These are discussion papers which have been prepared to inform the dialogue and have been written to encourage feedback to help shape the final version of each paper. You are encourage to provide feedback by joining the discussion on our Facebook page. Instructions for joining the discussion are here.

Local Governance National Dialogue - Resources

Here you will find links to a range of reports, research papers and academic articles which provide useful background and information on the different themes within the National dialogue, grouped as demographic change, regional divergences, globalisation including the rise of metropolitan centres, innovations in local governance, the role and function of local government, options in service delivery, Te Tiriti o Waitangi

This section provides links to recent papers looking at New Zealand's demographic change and outlook with an emphasis on regional and local differences

New Zealand's Demographic Accounting Model:

Movers, stayers, and policy
Presentation by Professor Natalie Jackson for the Treasury Guest lecture series

The first data release from the 2013 Census was accompanied by the statement that between 2006 and 2013, most of New Zealand's 16 regions grew, with just two declining in size. This was true at Regional Council level. At Territorial Authority (TA) level, where 67 administrative units are enumerated, 20 declined in size (30 per cent), up from 15 (22 per cent) 2001-2006, and at Census Area Unit (CAU) level, 33 per cent of the 1,869 CAUs declined, up from 25 per cent 2001-2006. This paper outlines the deepening trend of rural and non-urban depopulation in New Zealand, placing it in its broader (global) context and raising some of its policy implications. The paper draws on early output from a recently awarded Marsden, and also an MBIE-funded project under which New Zealand's first demographic accounting model has been developed, and which assists in explaining the nature of the trends.

Our Futures:

Te Pae Tawhiti
Presentation by emeritus professor Gary Hawke for the Treasury Guest lecture series

The Royal Society of New Zealand released in mid-2014, a "major issues" paper on "The 2013 census and New Zealand's changing population". Gary Hawke chaired the Panel which prepared the report. While the 2013 census confirmed many expectations, it included some surprises. In this talk Gary Hawke will review the major themes identified in the report and reflect on their implications for the formulation of economic policy.


The full report is available at

Papers and reports highlighting the growing differentiation in economic performance between New Zealand's regions

Growing apart:

A burning platform
Presentation by Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist at the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research for the Treasury Guest Lecture series

If we rank our regions internationally, Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury are comparable to France, Finland and Saudi Arabia respectively. But the smaller regions look like Timor-Leste (Northland), Greece (Manawatu-Whanganui and Gisborne) or other emerging economies such as Cyprus and the Seychelles.


The gaps between New Zealand’s regions are increasing. Many local economies are stagnating, some are faced with grave decline and just a select few are advancing. Deep-seated economic forces are driving these tectonic-like shifts.

Regional Economic Activity Report

The Regional Economic Activity Report presents comprehensive economic data on New Zealand’s 16 regions. It highlights the strengths and challenges each region faces and is a useful tool to support planning at all levels.


Countries, Cities and Multinationals
Presentation by Philip McCann and Zoltan J. ACS in Regional Studies volume 45.1

This paper explores the relationship between the size of a country, the size of its cities, and the importance of economies of scale in the modern era of globalization. In order to do this, it integrates three different literatures, namely the literature on the optimal size of a country, the literature on historical processes of urbanization and the performance of cities, and the literature on the role of multinational firms in the global economy. Using an economic geography perspective, but looking at these issues through the lens of economic history, it is demonstrated that the importance of agglomeration effects, and in particular relationship between city size and the prosperity of the nation-state, has changed over the different eras of globalization. In earlier eras of globalization, the importance of agglomeration was represented by a fairly simple relationship between the scale of the city and the scale of country-empire, whereas during the inter-war years of the twentieth century, this relationship began to change and to evolve into a much more complex set of relationships that are seen today. In the modern era of globalization the role of multinational companies has become critical for the global connectivity of a city-region, and city-regions in turn are seen increasingly to drive national economies. For industrialized countries the size of a city is nowadays much less important than its level of global connectivity, whereas the size of the city is still dominant in newly industrializing countries. As such, the relationships between firms, cities, and countries have in many ways been largely reversed, thereby casting doubt on various institutional economic theories regarding the optimal size of a country.

This section showcases a number of papers and reports dealing with the changing nature of local governance from the pursuit of localism in the UK and the impact of austerity, to supporting resilient neighbourhood associations in the US to the emergence of non-traditional participants in governance in New Zealand and Australia

A Response to Localism:

The development of community campuses

Wiltshire Council, in association with the Royal Society for the Arts 2020 public services project is pioneering the development of community campuses, bringing the Council, its public sector partners and communities together the shape services and share accountability for them.

Cooperative Councils

The Cooperative Councils Innovation Network is a collaboration between local authorities who are committed to finding better ways of working for, and with, local people for the benefit of their local community.


Our work recognises the need to define a new model for local government built on civic leadership, with councils working in equal partnership with local people to shape and strengthen communities. This means a new role for local authorities that replaces traditional models of top down governance and service delivery with local leadership, genuine co-operation, and a new approach built on the founding traditions of the co-operative movement: collective action, co-operation, empowerment and enterprise.

The Role and Future of Citizen Committees in Australian Local Government

This paper explores the role and future of citizens` committees as vehicles for sustained community engagement, and how their function might be strengthened in view of Australian and international research. The research highlights the importance of integrating citizen committees into community governance approaches to ensure their democratic potential is realised, and the valuable role well-managed and adequately resourced citizen committees can play in local governance.

Portland City Council:

Office of Neighbourhood Involvement (ONI)

Portland City Council, Oregon, has a 40 year history of facilitating and supporting a network of resilient neighbourhood associations supported through the city’s office of neighbourhood involvement (ONI)


ONI's Mission:
Promoting a culture of civic engagement by connecting and supporting all Portlanders working together and with government to build inclusive, safe and livable neighborhoods and communities.

The Office of Neighborhood Involvement, (ONI), was established in 1974.  The office serves as a vital communication link between community members, neighborhoods, and City of Portland bureaus.  ONI works in partnership with many organizations including Neighborhood Associations, District Coalitions, Business District Associations, City agencies, and a wide range of community organizations to involve and inform the public in the civic life of the City.  In addition ONI provides a wide range of neighborhood livability direct services as well as information and referral services.  ONI's programs are funded through a combination of City general funds and inter-governmental agreements with other City, County, State and Federal agencies.  These Centers include the Community Neighborhood Involvement Center:  CNIC can help you get involved in your neighborhood, access information, build community, support diversity and accessibility, organize a block party, clean up your neighborhood, sharpen your leadership skills, plant a tree, impact city policy, and more... Programs of CNIC include the Neighborhood Program, Diversity and Civic Leadership Program, Disability Program and the Public Involvement Best Practices Program.

Community Engagement Project 2009

This project examined emerging international practice in different approaches to community engagement, drawing a contrast with the conventional practices of community consultation mandated under New Zealand's Local Government Act.

The Changing Role of Local Government:

A Presentation to the Future of Local Government Summit, Melbourne, June 2010

Five years since the Municipal Association of Victoria hosted the first Future of Local Government Summit, the 2010 Summit addressed the question "what is local government's place in the world, what vision do we have for our future?". The paper concludes that local government has an opportunity of a kind which comes but seldom to redefine its role in relation both to its communities, and to higher tiers of government.

Evolution in community governance:

Building on what works March 2012 Research report Volume 1

This project examined emerging international practice in different approaches to community engagement, drawing a contrast with the conventional practices of community consultation mandated under New Zealand's Local Government Act.

Community-Level Governance:

What provision should be made and/or mandated in local government legislation?

July 2013

A report prepared for the New South Wales Independent Local Government Review Panel, the Local Government Association of South Australia's Expert Panel on the 'Council of the Future' and Local Government New Zealand. The principal focus of this report is whether local government legislation should include specific requirements allowing or obligating councils to introduce a form of community-level ('sub-council' or 'second-tier') governance. Each of the three partners was interested in this question as they considered the future role and structure of local government within their own jurisdictions. The report is in part a sequel to Evolution in Community Governance: Building on What Works.

An Overview of Developments in Community and Neighbourhood Governance

October 2014 Workshop presentation

This project examined emerging international practice in different approaches to community engagement, drawing a contrast with the conventional practices of community consultation mandated under New Zealand's Local Government Act.

Local Democracy Today and Tomorrow

The Emerging Role of 'Non-Traditional' Entities of Local Governance

November 2014

This paper was prepared to support a presentation to a session on 'Decentralisation, the local level and the national level' as part of a workshop being hosted by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, with the support of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, in Stockholm, November 2014

This section considers the role and function of local government, including local government reform

Consolidation in Local Government: A Fresh Look

A Fresh Look

This project was undertaken as a collaborative research venture between the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG), Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA), and Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ). Each wanted to take a fresh look at the issue of consolidation in local government, free from any current political or other pressures to recommend any particular approach towards structural reform.


The term 'consolidation' was chosen in an attempt to embrace a wide range of options that may deliver economies of scale or scope, or other benefits in terms of more effective local government. Options investigated included a range of approaches to shared services delivery, various models of regional collaboration, boundary adjustment, and voluntary, forced and failed amalgamations of councils.

NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel

The work of the NSW panel is the most recent in-depth study of the role and function of local government, the relationship between different tiers of government, and appropriate structure. The work of the panel continued the approach taken by the Queensland Local Government Reform Commission of emphasising strategic capacity rather than cost as the main factor to consider.

European Charter of Local Self-Government

European countries have a quite different approach to understanding the role of local government and its relationship to higher tiers of government. The Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe describes the role of the charter as: "The Charter has become a benchmark treaty to safe¬guard the rights of local and regional authorities, such as the right to enjoy autonomy and self-government, elect their local bodies and to have their own competencies, administrative structures and financial resources, or the right of recourse to a court in case of interference from other levels."

Local Government Structure and Efficiency 2006 Report

A report prepared for Local Government New Zealand reviewing international evidence of experience with local government restructuring and other approaches to improving local government performance.

How to Develop Good Governance at the City Level

April 2011 Seminar paper

This paper was presented by Peter McKinlay to the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) Seminar on Environmental Sustainability in Urban Centres held in Perth, Western Australia. The purpose of the paper was to provide an overview of what constitutes good governance in an urban setting, in the context of the complexities now confronting governments at all levels.

Rethinking Governance:

A presentation in the Treasury Guest lecture series

Ensuring efficient markets and remaining among the best places in the world to do business has been at the heart of New Zealand's economic and fiscal policies for many years (see the Secretary's opening statement to the Finance and expenditure select committee on 13 February 2013). There is growing and research-based evidence that market-based strategies need to be complemented by a new understanding of governance as a perspective which encourages collaboration between the public, private and non-profit sectors. Outcomes include the more cost-effective targeting and delivery of government services and greater legitimacy for decision-making. New terms such as co-design are entering the language. The potential to build a 'governance perspective' amongst the general population opens up the opportunity for significantly better utilisation of public resources. New Zealand case studies will demonstrate this.

Reflections on the Role of Local and Central Government in the Delivery of Social Services

December 2013 Report

This report was prepared for the New Zealand Treasury as a think piece to assist it in considering the respective roles of central and local government in facilitating the better and more efficient delivery of the government's major social services.

Rethinking Local Government for Rural and Provincial New Zealand:

A New Look at Community Governance

February 2013 Presentation

The brief for this presentation to a joint session of the rural and provincial groups of Local Government New Zealand was to consider what rural and provincial councils could learn from what has been happening internationally with local government, both in the context of the government’s current reform programme, including the new role for mayors, and the changed provisions for local government reorganisation and more widely.

This section provides access to a number of recent reports looking at the way in which local government is changing its approach to service delivery


Changing Places

How innovation and transformation is taking place in local government

A report from Localis on change in English local government

Local government has handled very substantial reductions in government grant pretty well so far. But there is more of the same to come, while an aging population inexorably increases demand for public services – we are moving to a very different world for local government. The result is that there has never been a more pressing need to innovate and transform the way the sector operates, to think big and think radically about what councils do and how they do it, and the sort of relationship they have with their residents.


This report looks at how ready the local government sector is to meet this challenge. It highlights the new approaches councils are taking, and what's standing in the way of further innovation.

Meeting the Challenge in Barnet:

Lessons from becoming the Commissioning Council

Over the past five years, the London Borough of Barnet has delivered one of the most ambitious and innovative organisational change programmes seen in Local Government. During this time, we have completely reformed our operating model, from an organisation that provides the majority of services directly, to a ‘Commissioning Council’ which commissions a range of internal and external providers in the market to achieve the best value and the best outcomes for residents.

The Future of Local Government:

Twenty-First-Century Challenges

Professor Mildred E. Warner Columbia University New York

*Public Administration Review Volume 70, Issue Supplement s1, pages s145–s147, December 2010 Research

Local governments in the twenty-first century face challenges regarding service delivery, finance, the workforce, and citizen engagement. While privatization was a major innovation in the last decades of the twentieth century, lack of costs savings and the loss of public values in market provision are prompting reversals in privatization, increases in regulation, and new approaches to government enterprise. The twenty-first century must focus on rebuilding the capacity of local governments to finance critical infrastructure, attract and retain a skilled labor force, and engage citizen in designing innovative solutions to address public problems. Innovations in public service delivery will move beyond public private partnerships to models that more effectively balance accountability, equity, and efficiency concerns.