The Local Government Review is underway, and could lead to significant changes to what councils do and how they are funded over the next 30 years. Ārewa ake te Kaupapa – Raising the Platform is the first report to be produced as part of this Review, and provides an indication of what is to come. Here are some of the big ideas in this report.

1. The costs of climate change

Increasing levels of alignment will be needed between central and local government to adapt to climate change, including shared policies on what needs to happen, and clarity on when central government funding of adaptation will be provided.

2. Meaningful involvement of Māori in decision making

There are too many consultation and engagement demands on iwi and Māori which don’t necessarily improve Māori wellbeing, or effectively respond to Māori concerns. A national framework for capacity building for iwi and Māori organisations may lead to more effective engagement processes.

3. Going beyond the ‘squeaky wheel’ to diverse representation in decision making

Local authority decisions do not effectively represent all community interests because very few people take part in formal consultation processes, and those who do tend to be older people who own property.

Different types of community engagement are needed to ensure that all communities and interests (including Māori, Pacific and Asian peoples, younger people, and renters) are more fairly and equitably represented in local authority decision-making and leadership.

4. How central and local government can work together

In the past. central government has imposed extra obligations on local authorities without providing funding to carry out those activities. The Productivity Commission has recommended a ‘genuine co-design approach’ in future when central government is developing regulations that local authorities will have to implement.

Local authorities will need to be designed and sized to be financially sustainable over the long term. This will need to include more consideration of when central government co-funding of local government activities might be justified.

5. Working with other organisations

The local government review will also look at how local government can work with other organisations that contribute to community wellbeing. This will lead to decisions on which current functions of local government should be retained and which should not.