Territorial Authorities
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Territorial Authorities

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politics and government of
New Zealand
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Map of New Zealand territorial authorities. Cities are bolded and capitalised. Regions are indicated with colours.

Territorial authorities are the second tier of local government in New Zealand, below regional councils. There are 67 territorial authorities: 13 city councils (including Auckland Council), 53 district councils and the Chatham Islands Council. District councils serve a combination of rural and urban communities, while city councils administer the larger urban areas. Five territorial authorities (Auckland, Nelson, Gisborne, Tasman and Marlborough) also perform the functions of a regional council and thus are unitary authorities. The Chatham Islands Council is a sui generis territorial authority that is similar to a unitary authority.

Territorial authority districts are not subdivisions of regions, and some of them fall within more than one region. Taupo District has the distinction of straddling the boundaries of four different regions. Regional council areas are based on water catchment areas, whereas territorial authorities are based on community of interest and road access. Regional councils are responsible for the administration of many environmental and public transport matters, while the territorial authorities administer local roading and reserves, sewerage, building consents, the land use and subdivision aspects of resource management, and other local matters. Some activities are delegated to council-controlled organisations.

List of territorial authorities

Name Seat Area
Population[3] Rank
Region(s)2 Island
Far North District Kaikohe 6,677 64,400 14 9.65 Northland North
Whangarei District Whangarei 2,712 91,400 8 33.70 Northland North
Kaipara District Dargaville 3,109 23,200 42 7.46 Northland North
Auckland Auckland 4,940 1,695,900 1 343.30 unitary authority North
Thames-Coromandel District Thames 2,207 29,700 38 13.46 Waikato North
Hauraki District Paeroa 1,270 19,950 45 15.71 Waikato North
Waikato District Ngaruawahia 4,403 75,300 12 17.10 Waikato North
Matamata-Piako District Te Aroha 1,755 35,200 33 20.06 Waikato North
Hamilton City Hamilton 110 169,300 4 1,539.09 Waikato North
Waipa District Te Awamutu 1,470 54,000 20 36.73 Waikato North
Otorohanga District Otorohanga 1,999 10,250 55 5.13 Waikato North
South Waikato District Tokoroa 1,819 24,400 41 13.41 Waikato North
Waitomo District Te Kuiti 3,535 9,640 57 2.73 Waikato (94.87%)
Manawatu-Wanganui (5.13%)
Taupo District Taupo 6,333 37,200 31 5.87 Waikato (73.74%)
Bay of Plenty (14.31%)
Hawke's Bay (11.26%)
Manawatu-Wanganui (0.69%)
Western Bay of Plenty District Greerton1 1,951 50,100 24 25.68 Bay of Plenty North
Tauranga City Tauranga 135 135,000 5 978.26 Bay of Plenty North
Rotorua District Rotorua 2,409 72,500 13 30.10 Bay of Plenty (61.52%)
Waikato (38.48%)
Whakatane District Whakatane 4,450 35,700 32 8.02 Bay of Plenty North
Kawerau District Kawerau 24 7,080 64 295.00 Bay of Plenty North
Opotiki District Opotiki 3,089 9,100 60 2.95 Bay of Plenty North
Gisborne District Gisborne 8,386 49,100 25 5.85 unitary authority North
Wairoa District Wairoa 4,077 8,230 62 2.02 Hawke's Bay North
Hastings District Hastings 5,227 80,600 11 15.42 Hawke's Bay North
Napier City Napier 105 62,800 15 598.10 Hawke's Bay North
Central Hawke's Bay District Waipawa 3,332 14,150 49 4.25 Hawke's Bay North
New Plymouth District New Plymouth 2,205 81,900 10 37.14 Taranaki North
Stratford District Stratford 2,163 9,510 58 4.40 Taranaki (68.13%)
Manawatu-Wanganui (31.87%)
South Taranaki District Hawera 3,575 28,300 39 7.92 Taranaki North
Ruapehu District Taumarunui 6,734 12,750 52 1.89 Manawatu-Wanganui North
Whanganui District Whanganui 2,373 45,200 28 19.05 Manawatu-Wanganui North
Rangitikei District Marton 4,484 15,150 48 3.38 Manawatu-Wanganui (86.37%)
Hawke's Bay (13.63%)
Manawatu District Feilding 2,657 30,800 37 11.59 Manawatu-Wanganui North
Palmerston North City Palmerston North 395 88,700 9 224.56 Manawatu-Wanganui North
Tararua District Dannevirke 4,364 17,900 46 4.10 Manawatu-Wanganui (98.42%)
Wellington (1.58%)
Horowhenua District Levin 1,064 33,000 35 31.02 Manawatu-Wanganui North
Kapiti Coast District Paraparaumu 731 53,200 21 72.78 Wellington North
Porirua City Porirua 175 56,800 18 324.57 Wellington North
Upper Hutt City Upper Hutt 540 43,700 29 80.93 Wellington North
Lower Hutt City Lower Hutt 376 105,900 7 281.65 Wellington North
Wellington City Wellington 290 216,300 3 745.86 Wellington North
Masterton District Masterton 2,300 25,700 40 11.17 Wellington North
Carterton District Carterton 1,180 9,340 59 7.92 Wellington North
South Wairarapa District Martinborough 2,387 10,450 54 4.38 Wellington North
Tasman District Richmond 9,616 52,100 22 5.42 unitary authority South
Nelson City Nelson 424 51,900 23 122.41 unitary authority South
Marlborough District Blenheim 10,458 46,600 27 4.46 unitary authority South
Buller District Westport 7,942 10,150 56 1.28 West Coast South
Grey District Greymouth 3,474 13,550 50 3.90 West Coast South
Westland District Hokitika 11,828 8,890 61 0.75 West Coast South
Kaikoura District Kaikoura 2,047 3,830 66 1.87 Canterbury South
Hurunui District Amberley 8,641 12,850 51 1.49 Canterbury South
Waimakariri District Rangiora 2,217 60,700 17 27.38 Canterbury South
Christchurch City Christchurch 1,415[4] 388,400 2 274.49 Canterbury South
Selwyn District Rolleston 6,381 62,200 16 9.75 Canterbury South
Ashburton District Ashburton 6,183 34,500 34 5.58 Canterbury South
Timaru District Timaru 2,733 47,300 26 17.31 Canterbury South
Mackenzie District Fairlie 7,140 4,670 65 0.65 Canterbury South
Waimate District Waimate 3,554 7,930 63 2.23 Canterbury South
Chatham Islands Territory Waitangi 794 650 67 0.82 unitary authority South
Waitaki District Oamaru 7,109 22,300 43 3.14 Canterbury (59.61%)
Otago (40.39%)
Central Otago District Alexandra 9,956 21,000 44 2.11 Otago South
Queenstown-Lakes District Queenstown 8,719 39,100 30 4.48 Otago South
Dunedin City Dunedin 3,287 130,700 6 39.76 Otago South
Clutha District Balclutha 6,334 17,700 47 2.79 Otago South
Southland District Invercargill 29,552[5] 31,400 36 1.06 Southland South
Gore District Gore 1,254 12,500 53 9.97 Southland South
Invercargill City Invercargill 389 55,200 19 141.90 Southland South

Offshore islands

There are a number of islands where the Minister of Local Government is the territorial authority, two of which have a 'permanent population and/or permanent buildings and structures.' The main islands are listed below (population according to 2001 census in parenthesis):

In addition, seven of the nine groups of the New Zealand Outlying Islands are outside of any territorial authority:


1989 local government reforms

For many decades until the local government reforms of 1989, a borough with more than 20,000 people could be proclaimed a city. The boundaries of councils tended to follow the edge of the built-up area, so little distinction was made between the urban area and the local government area.

New Zealand's local government structural arrangements were significantly reformed by the Local Government Commission in 1989 when approximately 700 councils and special purpose bodies were amalgamated to create 87 new local authorities. Regional councils were reduced in number from 20 to 13, territorial authorities (city/district councils) from 200 to 75, and special purpose bodies from over 400 to 7.[2] The new district and city councils were generally much larger and most covered substantial areas of both urban and rural land. Many places that once had a city council were now being administered by a district council.

As a result, the term "city" began to take on two meanings.

The word "city" came to be used in a less formal sense to describe major urban areas independent of local body boundaries. This informal usage is jealously guarded. Gisborne, for example, adamantly described itself as the first city in the world to see the new millennium. Gisborne is administered by a district council, but its status as a city is not generally disputed.

Under the current law the minimum population for a new city is 50,000.

Changes since 1989

Since the 1989 reorganisations, there have been few major reorganisations or status changes in local government. Incomplete list:

Reports on completed reorganisation proposals since 1999 are available on the Local Government Commission's site (link below).

2007-2009 Royal Commission on Auckland Governance

On 26 March 2009, the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommended the Rodney, North Shore, Waitakere, Auckland City, Manukau, Papakura and Franklin territorial councils and the Auckland Regional Council be abolished and the entire Auckland region to be amalgamated into one "supercity".[4] The area would consist of one city council (with statutory provision for three Maori councillors), four urban local councils, and two rural local councils:

  • Rodney local council would lose Orewa, Dairy Flat, and Whangaparaoa but retain the remainder of the current Rodney District. The split areas as well as the current North Shore City would form a Waitemata local council.
  • Waitakere local council would consist of the current Waitakere City as well as the Avondale area.
  • Tamaki Makaurau would consist of the current Auckland City and Otahuhu (excluding CBD)
  • Manukau local council would consist of the urban parts of the current Manukau City and of the Papakura District.
  • Hunua local council would consist of the entire Franklin District, much of which is currently in the Waikato Region, along with rural areas of the current Papakura District and Manukau City.
  • The entire Papakura District would be dissolved between urban and rural councils.

The National-led Government responded within about a week. Its proposal, which will go to a Select Committee, has the supercity and many community boards but no local councils and for the first election no separate seats for Maori.

Public reaction to the Royal Commission report was mixed, especially in regards to the Government's amended proposal. Auckland Mayor John Banks supported the amended merger plans.[5]

Criticism of the amended proposal came largely from residents in Manukau, Waitakere and North Shore Cities.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] In addition, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples spoke against the exclusion of the Maori seats, as recommended by the Royal Commission.[13][14] Opposition Leader Phil Goff called for a referendum on the issue.[15]

Creation of Auckland Council

Auckland Council was created on 1 November 2010 -- a unitary authority that is classed as both a region and a territorial authority. It incorporated the recommendations of the Royal Commission and was established via legislation.[16] Auckland Council is uniquely divided into "local boards" representing the lowest tier of local government.[17]

Failed proposed changes

  • 2015: Proposals to amalgamate local councils in Wellington[18] and Northland were accepted[19] by the Local Government Commission for consideration, although following consultation they ultimately were not formed into a final proposal. The status quo remains.
  • 2015: Amalgamation of four local councils and the regional council in Hawke's Bay was proposed by the Local Government Commission. A district wide referendum was held in Sep-2015, and the proposal was defeated by 66% of voters.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Living Density: Table 1 Archived 28 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Housing Statistics, Statistics New Zealand. Accessed 25 January 2009. Areas are based on 2001 boundaries. Water bodies greater than 15 hectares are excluded.
  2. ^ Local Government Reform in New Zealand[permanent dead link] Wallis, J.and Dollery, B. (2000) Local Government Reform in New Zealand. Working Paper Series in Economics, No 2000-7,May 2000, ISBN 1-86389-682-1, University of New England School of Economic Studies, Armidale NSW 2351 Australia. Copyright 2000 by Joe Wallis and Brian Dollery.
  3. ^ Chatham Islands Council Act 1995 Archived 12 July 2012 at Archive.today, Parliament of New Zealand, 1995, Statute No 041, Commenced: 1 November 1995, retrieved 4 February 2008.
  4. ^ Thompson, Wayne (28 March 2009). "Super-city tipped to save $113m a year". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2009.
  5. ^ Thompson, Wayne (8 April 2009). "Proposal 'a great start' says Banks, but other mayors critical - Super City - NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2011.
  6. ^ "Protest gets backing". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ "Marching for Waitakere". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ "Supercity protesters hit the streets - national". Stuff.co.nz. 22 April 2009. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ Udanga, Romy. "Call for a united front". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ Udanga, Romy. "Supercity fears emerge". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ Kemeys, David. "Who stole our voice? - auckland". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2011.
  12. ^ "Govt's super-council leaflets anger mayor - National - NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald. 24 April 2009. Retrieved 2011.
  13. ^ Tahana, Yvonne (8 April 2009). "Anger rises over lack of Maori seats - National - NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2011.
  14. ^ Kotze, Karen. "Hui calls for representation". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2011.
  15. ^ "Let Auckland decide on local government changes | Scoop News". Scoop.co.nz. 24 April 2009. Retrieved 2011.
  16. ^ "Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 No 32 (as at 10 May 2016), Public Act Contents - New Zealand Legislation". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ "Better Local Government". Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ "Hawke's Bay Reorganisation Poll : PROGRESS RESULT" (PDF). Electionz.com. Retrieved 2015.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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