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Local Government Reform

Central government is proposing a number of reforms that will impact on Local Government. These include:

  • A review of the future for local government
  • Three Waters Reform 
  • Replacement of the Resource Management Act
  • Climate change responses
  • Waste management legislation 
  • National Policy Statements
  • Health reforms and potential education reforms

All these reforms will significantly impact the role and focus of local government. They are complex, interconnected and will ultimately require changes to the structure of local government.  There is a need to ensure that the outcomes of this new approach to local government meet your communities’ needs.

Review of future for Local Government


In April 2021, the Government announced an independent review of local government. The Review identified how the system of local democracy and governance needs to evolve over the next 30 years to improve the wellbeing of New Zealand communities, the environment, and actively embody Te Tiriti. 

You can read about the background of the Review into the Future for Local Government including the Terms of Reference on the Department of Internal Affairs website and the draft report and recommendations which were released on 28 October 2022.

“While the ‘unfunded mandate’ of additional responsibilities continues to grow, compounding funding pressures, the potential impact of proposed reforms is creating further uncertainty for the role of local government in communities.” (Review into the Future for Local Government (2022) He mata whāriki, he matawhānui: Draft report)

This has been issued for public consultation with submissions closing on 28 February 2023.  The Panel will then present its final report to the Minister and Local Government New Zealand by 30 June 2023. 

How Morrison Low can assist

Five key shifts have been proposed with 29 recommendations, and associated questions.  While there are a number of focus areas and issues to consider, in order to respond and be prepared for any future state, these are some initial areas where we think councils can get started ahead of the reforms:

  • Increased focus on authentic engagement, capacity building and partnerships with Māori and implementation of Te Ao Māori values – recent Morrison Low projects have focussed on establishing governance structures, funding and mana enhancing agreements
  • Embedding progressive/social procurement – Morrison Low have been assisting a number of councils with planning, implementing, evaluating and monitoring the outcomes of progressive / social procurement practices
  • Central Government intergenerational climate fund – Morrison Low have been assisting clients with grant funding applications both in New Zealand and Australia, most recently the Climate Emergency Response Fund in New Zealand and National Disaster Recovery Funding in New South Wales.
  • Wider use of central and local government co-investment models – a number of Morrison Low projects have involved a range of funding and co-investment models, undertaking detailed financial analysis and identifying the risks and benefits
  • Greater local government shared services collaboration – through our Section 17A service delivery reviews and the establishment of a number of shared services structures and contracts over recent years, Morrison Low have an in-depth understanding in this area 

Morrison Low are also available to help you more generally with your consultation response.

  • Our local government reform team has the best depth of experience in local government reform in both New Zealand and Australia. 
  • Our experience over many years working for our local government clients means we understand the issues and complexity that local government face. 
  • Our connections with central government mean that we are in a great place to assist local government.   Our recent involvement in water reform illustrates the work we do in this area.
  • We can quickly and efficiently get to the important issues, risks and challenges for your community.
  • Most importantly we communicate the complicated information simply and effectively.
  • Our unique blend of engineers, planners, financial analysts and reform specialists means we already understand the issues.
  • The team is structured with Alice Grace as programme director, with Ewen Skinner as support, overseeing all local government reform work.  They are supported by a highly experienced team of local government experts.

This programme team approach means that we can allocate resources to your project while maintaining a cohesive approach that will allow sharing of new information and insight that may arise through the various reform work that we are undertaking.

Our specialists:

  • Alice Grace - Programme Director and Local Government Reform Specialist
  • Ewen Skinner – Programme Support and Local Government Reform Specialist
  • Matt Fyffe – Social Procurement
  • Linda Cook – Shared Services and Service Delivery Reviews
  • Stuart Cross – Financial Analysis and Co-Investment
  • Joan Elphingston-Jolly – Climate Change, Sustainability and Funding Applications