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March 7, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Kate Follows Celia – Family Background

Sit down, let’s rap. New Zealand is governed by two branches of authority:

central and local. The local government is made up with 78 local authorities. There are 11 regional councils: four in the South Island and seven in the North. These cover the whole land mass of the country. Within the regional councils there are territorial authorities: city (11), district (54) and Auckland (one). There are five territorial authorities which have the powers of both regional and city/district councils.
Wellington is part of the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC). This, in turn, is split up into eight councils: Kapiti Coast, Masterton, Carterton, South Wairarapa, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Wellington. Wellington City Council includes the city and surrounding suburbs, right out to the coast, and up to Porirua City in the north and Lower Hutt City in the north-east.

The local authorities are set up and given power by the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA). The LGA gives councils two key roles: to promote the wellbeing of Wellington and its people, and to facilitate democratic local decision-making.
This means councils can determine for themselves what is locally appropriate, and what needs to be done. The LGA works with the Resource Management Act to promote sustainable development. Within the realm of resource management, local authorities can decide what activities need what level of consent. There is some national cohesion/streamlining, but still differences between regions. Likewise, councils can write bylaws, which are enforceable only in the defined area. Rodney Hide is the Minister of Local Government in central government.
Keeping in-line with the democratic principles of New Zealand, voting happens every three years. At present, there are about 1400 elected councillors and mayors all through-out the country. Wellington city elects one mayor and 14 councillors. You may recall me mentioning that Celia Wade-Brown was voted in as mayor in 2010. She bet the previous mayor (of nine years), Kerry Prendergast, by a mere 176 votes. This was surely attributable to Celia’s campaigning and hard work as a councillor, but the voting system (single transferrable vote) and special votes were also important.

At the same time, we voted in new councillors: Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Ngaire Best, Stephanie Cook, Jo Coughlan, Paul Eagle, Andy Foster, Leonie Gill, Justin Lester, Ian McKinnon, Simon Marsh, John Morrison, Iona Pannett, Bryan Pepperell and Helene Ritchie. Together, these guys make bylaws, set our strategic direction and approve budgets, policies and plans at achieving that direction, all while listening to the community.

Our fifteen representatives are supported by the council’s chief executive (Gary Poole and friends) and over 1450 staff. Hit them up for a job when your degree’s finally completed, you might just be in luck.

Want to find out more? Check out the WCC website, stocked with pages of information ranging from committee meeting times, events, councillor information, plans, policies and bylaws. There are numerous blogs about politics; WCC Watch is a readable account of what the council’s doing. And of course, there’s always next week’s column.

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  1. MichaelT says:

    Just a small correction.
    Celia beat, rather than bet, Kerry.

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