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Glossary of terms

community board

A group of people which advocates and represents a community in its dealings with a district or city council. It has powers and functions delegated to it by the council. It has input into some council decisions.
Community boards are a link between the council and the community. Community boards can be established at any time but may only be abolished as part of a council’s regular representation review carried out before local authority elections.
More than 100 community boards operate in urban and rural areas of territorial authorities. They were created by the local government reforms in 1989. A community board cannot levy rates, make bylaws, buy property, borrow money, sell assets or hire or fire staff. A community board can make recommendations and submissions on issues such as speed limits and other traffic and roading issues in its area; it can oversee community halls and reserves and sports grounds; and help co-ordinate civil defence preparation.
A community board has between four and 12 members. It must have at least four elected members and other members may be appointed. A community board must have a majority of elected members.


An area within a city council or district council where a community board has responsibility. It must be a continuous area with a population of at least 1500 people.


The geographic area over which a district council or city council has authority.

draft reorganisation proposal

A scheme issued by the Local Government Commission (or an appointed local authority or a joint committee of affected local authorities) that sets out the details of a proposal for changing the structure of local government. It can be changed before a final proposal is issued.


A person entitled under law to vote at an election or poll.

local boards

A local board has a co-governance role with mayor and councillors at a territorial authority. They are responsible for non-regulatory matters, i.e. they cannot set rates or issue resource consents and building consents.
Local boards administer a budget for their area. They oversee public assets such as libraries, parks, halls and other facilities. They develop and propose bylaws and a triennial plan for their area.
The Remuneration Authority estimates that elected board members need to make a 24-hour per week commitment and the Board Chair needs to work full-time.
Local boards currently exist only at Auckland Council. A law change in 2014 enabled the Commission to establish this governance structure more widely in other areas.
Local boards cannot be abolished by the territorial authority and can only be altered by a local government reorganisation scheme, or varied by agreement between the governing body and the board.


A small area defined by Statistics New Zealand for collecting census data about the local population. Meshblocks are also used to prepare electoral rolls for local and parliamentary elections.

Order in Council

A document signed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Executive Council (Government Ministers). It can, for example, give legal authority to implement a local government reorganisation scheme. Orders in Council are published in the New Zealand Gazette

regional council

A local authority with jurisdiction over a region. Its main functions are natural resource management, land use planning and environmental matters. Its boundaries are based on water catchments, such as rivers, lakes and harbours. The seaward boundary is the twelve mile (19.3km) New Zealand territorial limit. A regional council is headed by a Chair, who is a councillor elected by fellow councillors. It can have between six and fourteen elected members.

reorganisation scheme

A scheme issued by the Local Government Commission (or an appointed local authority or joint committee of the affected local authorities) after it has considered submissions on a draft reorganisation scheme and decided to issue a final version. It takes legal effect through an Order in Council, rather than a vote by the whole Parliament.

territorial authority

A city council or district council. A territorial authority provides localised services such as drinking water, sewerage and rubbish disposal, roads, building control and public health inspections. A unitary authority has the powers of both a territorial authority and a regional council. A territorial authority is headed by a mayor, elected at large in the area. It can have between six and thirty elected members.

unitary authority

A territorial authority which also has the responsibilities, powers and duties of a regional council. It is headed by a Mayor, elected at large.