Wellington.Scoop » The future of local government lies in partnership – LGNZ President

LDR report by Moana Ellis
The future of local government lies in partnership, including with Maori and central government, said New Zealand Local Government Chairman Stuart Crosby. “It’s no longer about power and control. To make things happen, we partner – or should – with mana whenua, the community, central government, businesses and the many other stakeholders every day. It’s all about partnership.

“We cannot serve our communities and do justice to our work if we do not partner with mana whenua.”

In his chairman’s address to a record-breaking delegation of mayors, chairmen and councilors at LGNZ’s annual conference this week, Crosby said that after 36 years in local body politics, he understands that overcoming the challenges facing local governments face will require modern leadership.

“So many of the things we used to do, the way we made decisions, the things we invested in and the way we engaged just wouldn’t work in today’s world.”

The partnership would only work when the councils operated with a genuine understanding of what was behind it, rather than because it was a requirement.

“Modern leadership involves sharing information, creating a higher level of trust, and promoting a sense of inclusion and belonging in decision-making processes. Good governance is intrinsically linked to happier, more engaged communities that contribute more to society as a whole.

Over 600 leaders and industry representatives at the four-day Palmerston North conference heard from the Premier, Minister for Local Government and other ministers, the opposition and officials on policy areas that impact councils and local communities.

Crosby said the conference was an opportunity to think big at a time when local government was being presented with its biggest reforms in more than three decades, including water and resource management reforms, and d others such as the new health system which he said would have wide ramifications for councils and communities.

Boards also faced the challenges of climate change, the pandemic, labor pressures, rising costs, and long-standing issues such as a lack of diversity among elected members and low turnout. electoral.

Crosby said he was concerned about the pace and sheer number of reforms, as well as transitions.

He said the review of the future of local government presented the biggest opportunity for the sector to bridge the gap between local government and central government and should be led by the sector.

A sector-led review could shape the system into a world-class democracy.

“It is becoming abundantly clear that the examination of the future of local government will work best if it is largely sector-led. »

He challenged elected officials to collectively up their game as a sector.

“Show communities that as elected members we will plan ahead and deliver with them, not to them. We will let the community use their legitimacy, voice and strategic direction for their community. We will be responsive, efficient and held accountable. These are markers of good governance in local communities.

But he said a massive turnover of members elected in local elections in October could lead to a significant loss of knowledge and experience.

“This jeopardizes not only the momentum we have created, but also the gains we have made in recent years to slowly increase diversity. We gold carders are also part of the diversity, have lived one life and still have much to contribute to local government.

LGNZ’s annual conference ends on Friday.

LDR Local Democracy Reporting is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air

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