Territorial authorities of New Zealand

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Territorial authorities are the second tier of local government in New Zealand, below regional councils. There are 67 territorial authorities: 13 city councils, 53 district councils and the Chatham Islands Council. [1] District councils serve a combination of rural and urban communities, while city councils administer the larger urban areas. [note 1] Five territorial authorities (Auckland, Nelson, Gisborne, Tasman and Marlborough) also perform the functions of a regional council and thus are unitary authorities. The Chatham Islands Council is a sui generis territorial authority that is similar to a unitary authority.


Territorial authority districts are not subdivisions of regions, and some of them fall within more than one region. Regional council areas are based on water catchment areas, whereas territorial authorities are based on community of interest and road access. Regional councils are responsible for the administration of many environmental and public transport matters, while the territorial authorities administer local roading and reserves, water supply and sanitation, building consents, the land use and subdivision aspects of resource management, and other local matters. [2] Some activities are delegated to council-controlled organisations. The scope of powers is specified by the Local Government Act 2002. [3]

Map of New Zealand territorial authorities. Cities are bolded and capitalised. Regions are indicated with colours. NZ Regional Councils and Territorial Authorities 2017.svg
Map of New Zealand territorial authorities. Cities are bolded and capitalised. Regions are indicated with colours.

List of territorial authorities

There are currently 67 territorial authorities. Prior to the Auckland Council "super merger" in November 2010, there were 73 territorial authorities. Prior to the Banks Peninsula District merging with the Christchurch City Council in 2006, there were 74 territorial authorities.

(including mayor)
SeatLand area
(km2) [4]
Population Density
Region(s) [lower-alpha 1] Island
Far North District 10 Kaikohe 6,68471,00010.62 Northland North
Whangarei District 14 Whangārei 2,71298,30036.25NorthlandNorth
Kaipara District 9 Dargaville 3,10925,2008.11NorthlandNorth
Auckland 21 Auckland 4,9411,717,500347.60unitary authorityNorth
Thames-Coromandel District 9 Thames 2,20732,20014.59 Waikato North
Hauraki District 13 Paeroa 1,27021,40016.85WaikatoNorth
Waikato District 14 Ngāruawāhia 4,40482,90018.82WaikatoNorth
Matamata-Piako District 12 Te Aroha 1,75536,30020.68WaikatoNorth
Hamilton City 13Hamilton110176,5001,604.55WaikatoNorth
Waipa District 13 Te Awamutu 1,47057,80039.32WaikatoNorth
Ōtorohanga District 8Otorohanga1,99910,7005.35WaikatoNorth
South Waikato District 11 Tokoroa 1,81925,40013.96WaikatoNorth
Waitomo District 7 Te Kuiti 3,5359,7102.75Waikato (94.87%)
Manawatū-Whanganui (5.13%)
Taupō District 11 Taupō 6,33340,1006.33Waikato (73.74%)
Bay of Plenty (14.31%)
Hawke's Bay (11.26%)
Manawatū-Whanganui (0.69%)
Western Bay of Plenty District 12Greerton [lower-alpha 2] 1,95156,60029.01Bay of PlentyNorth
Tauranga City 11 Tauranga 135151,3001,120.74Bay of PlentyNorth
Rotorua Lakes 11 Rotorua 2,40977,30032.09Bay of Plenty (61.52%)
Waikato (38.48%)
Whakatāne District 11Whakatane4,45038,2008.58Bay of PlentyNorth
Kawerau District 9Kawerau247,750322.92Bay of PlentyNorth
Ōpōtiki District 7Opotiki3,09010,0003.24Bay of PlentyNorth
Gisborne District 14 Gisborne 8,38550,7006.05unitary authorityNorth
Wairoa District 7Wairoa4,0778,9602.20Hawke's BayNorth
Hastings District 15Hastings5,22788,00016.84Hawke's BayNorth
Napier City 13 Napier 10566,300631.43Hawke's BayNorth
Central Hawke's Bay District 9 Waipawa 3,33315,2504.58Hawke's BayNorth
New Plymouth District 15 New Plymouth 2,20586,10039.05 Taranaki North
Stratford District 11Stratford2,1639,8804.57Taranaki (68.13%)
Manawatū-Whanganui (31.87%)
South Taranaki District 13 Hāwera 3,57528,7008.03TaranakiNorth
Ruapehu District 12 Taumarunui 6,73412,8001.90Manawatū-WhanganuiNorth
Whanganui District 13 Whanganui 2,37348,10020.27Manawatū-WhanganuiNorth
Rangitikei District 12 Marton 4,48415,7503.51Manawatū-Whanganui (86.37%)
Hawke's Bay (13.63%)
Manawatu District 11 Feilding 2,65732,10012.08Manawatū-WhanganuiNorth
Palmerston North City 16Palmerston North39590,400228.86Manawatū-WhanganuiNorth
Tararua District 9 Dannevirke 4,36518,9004.33Manawatū-Whanganui (98.42%)
Wellington (1.58%)
Horowhenua District 12 Levin 1,06436,10033.93Manawatū-WhanganuiNorth
Kapiti Coast District 11 Paraparaumu 73257,00077.87WellingtonNorth
Porirua City 11Porirua17561,000348.57WellingtonNorth
Upper Hutt City 11Upper Hutt54047,10087.22WellingtonNorth
Hutt City 13Lower Hutt376111,800297.34WellingtonNorth
Wellington City 15Wellington290216,200745.52WellingtonNorth
Masterton District 11Masterton2,30027,50011.96WellingtonNorth
Carterton District 9Carterton1,1809,9608.44WellingtonNorth
South Wairarapa District 10 Martinborough 2,38711,4004.78WellingtonNorth
Tasman District 14 Richmond 9,61656,4005.87unitary authority South
Nelson City 13 Nelson 42254,600129.38unitary authoritySouth
Marlborough District 14 Blenheim 10,45850,2004.80unitary authoritySouth
Buller District 11 Westport 7,9439,6101.21 West Coast South
Grey District 9 Greymouth 3,47413,8003.97West CoastSouth
Westland District 9 Hokitika 11,8288,9200.75West CoastSouth
Kaikōura District 8Kaikoura2,0474,2202.06 Canterbury South
Hurunui District 10 Amberley 8,64113,3001.54CanterburySouth
Waimakariri District 11 Rangiora 2,21764,70029.18CanterburySouth
Christchurch City 17 Christchurch 1,416 394,700278.74CanterburySouth
Selwyn District 12 Rolleston 6,38169,70010.92CanterburySouth
Ashburton District 13Ashburton6,18235,4005.73CanterburySouth
Timaru District 10Timaru2,73248,40017.72CanterburySouth
Mackenzie District 7 Fairlie 7,1395,4200.76CanterburySouth
Waimate District 9Waimate3,5548,2402.32CanterburySouth
Chatham Islands 9 Waitangi 7947600.96unitary authoritySouth
Waitaki District 11 Oamaru 7,10823,5003.31Canterbury (59.61%)
Otago (40.39%)
Central Otago District 11 Alexandra 9,93323,9002.41OtagoSouth
Queenstown-Lakes District 11 Queenstown 8,72047,4005.44OtagoSouth
Dunedin City 15Dunedin3,286134,10040.81OtagoSouth
Clutha District 15 Balclutha 6,33518,3002.89OtagoSouth
Southland District 13 Invercargill 29,552 32,5001.10 Southland South
Gore District 12Gore1,25412,90010.29SouthlandSouth
Invercargill City 13Invercargill39057,100146.41SouthlandSouth
  1. Percentages are of land area.
  2. A suburb of Tauranga City

Offshore islands

There are a number of islands where the Minister of Local Government is the territorial authority, two of which have a 'permanent population and/or permanent buildings and structures.' The main islands are listed below (population according to 2001 census in parenthesis):

In addition, seven of the nine groups of the New Zealand outlying islands are outside of any territorial authority:


Mayors in New Zealand, like councillors, are directly elected in the local elections a three-year term. [5] The Local Government Act 2002 defines the role of a mayor as having to provide leadership to the other elected members of the territorial authority, be a leader in the community and perform civic duties. [3]


1989 local government reforms

For many decades until the local government reforms of 1989, a borough with more than 20,000 people could be proclaimed a city. The boundaries of councils tended to follow the edge of the built-up area, so little distinction was made between the urban area and the local government area.

New Zealand's local government structural arrangements were significantly reformed by the Local Government Commission in 1989 when approximately 700 councils and special purpose bodies were amalgamated to create 87 new local authorities. Regional councils were reduced in number from 20 to 13, territorial authorities (city/district councils) from 200 to 75, and special purpose bodies from over 400 to 7. [6] The new district and city councils were generally much larger and most covered substantial areas of both urban and rural land. Many places that once had a city council were now being administered by a district council.

As a result, the term "city" began to take on two meanings.

The word "city" came to be used in a less formal sense to describe major urban areas independent of local body boundaries. This informal usage is jealously guarded. Gisborne, for example, adamantly described itself as the first city in the world to see the new millennium. Gisborne is administered by a district council, but its status as a city is not generally disputed.

Under the current law the minimum population for a new city is 50,000.

Changes since 1989

Since the 1989 reorganisations, there have been few major reorganisations or status changes in local government. Incomplete list:

Reports on completed reorganisation proposals since 1999 are available on the Local Government Commission's site (link below).

2007–2009 Royal Commission on Auckland Governance

On 26 March 2009, the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance recommended the Rodney, North Shore, Waitakere, Auckland City, Manukau, Papakura and Franklin territorial councils and the Auckland Regional Council be abolished and the entire Auckland region to be amalgamated into one "supercity". [8] The area would consist of one city council (with statutory provision for three Maori councillors), four urban local councils, and two rural local councils:

The National-led Government responded within about a week. Its proposal, which will go to a Select Committee, has the supercity and many community boards but no local councils and for the first election no separate seats for Maori.

Public reaction to the Royal Commission report was mixed, especially in regards to the Government's amended proposal. Auckland Mayor John Banks supported the amended merger plans. [9]

Criticism of the amended proposal came largely from residents in Manukau, Waitakere and North Shore Cities. [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] In addition, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples spoke against the exclusion of the Maori seats, as recommended by the Royal Commission. [17] [18] Opposition Leader Phil Goff called for a referendum on the issue. [19]

Creation of Auckland Council

Auckland Council was created on 1 November 2010 — a unitary authority that is classed as both a region and a territorial authority. It incorporated the recommendations of the Royal Commission and was established via legislation. [20] Auckland Council is uniquely divided into "local boards" representing the lowest tier of local government. [21]

Failed proposed changes

See also

Related Research Articles

Manukau City Territorial authority of New Zealand in North Island

Manukau City was a territorial authority district in Auckland, New Zealand, that was governed by the Manukau City Council. The area is sometimes referred to as "South Auckland", although this term never possessed official recognition and does not encompass areas such as East Auckland, which was within the city boundary. It was a relatively young city, both in terms of legal status and large-scale settlement – though in June 2010, it was the third largest in New Zealand, and the fastest growing. In the same year, the entire Auckland Region was amalgamated under a single city authority, Auckland Council.

Waikato Region of New Zealand

Waikato is a local government region of the upper North Island of New Zealand. It covers the Waikato District, Waipa District, Matamata-Piako District, South Waikato District and Hamilton City, as well as Hauraki, Coromandel Peninsula, the northern King Country, much of the Taupō District, and parts of Rotorua District. It is governed by the Waikato Regional Council.

Manukau Harbour

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Papakura District Former local council territory in New Zealand

Papakura District was a local council territory in New Zealand's Auckland Region that was governed by the Papakura District Council from 1989 until 2010. The area makes up the southernmost part of the Auckland metropolitan area.

Auckland Region Region of New Zealand

The Auckland Region is one of the sixteen regions of New Zealand, named for the city of Auckland, the country's largest urban area. The region encompasses the Auckland metropolitan area, smaller towns, rural areas, and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Containing 34 percent of the nation's residents, it has by far the largest population and economy of any region of New Zealand, but the second-smallest land area.

Waitakere City

Waitākere City was a territorial authority in the western part of the urban area of Auckland, New Zealand; it was governed by the Waitākere City Council from 1989 to 2010. It was New Zealand's fifth largest city, with an annual growth of about 2%. In 2010 the council was amalgamated with the other authorities of the Auckland Region to form the current Auckland Council.

South Auckland

South Auckland is an imprecisely defined urban area of Auckland, New Zealand, with a young population, a relatively large Polynesian and Māori demographic, and lower incomes than other parts of Auckland. The name South Auckland, though not an official place name, has come into common use among New Zealanders. It also appears in the names of some organisations and companies.

Auckland City Former territorial authority of New Zealand in Auckland

Auckland City was a city in the Auckland urban area, covering the central isthmus and most of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. It included the Auckland CBD – a major financial and commercial centre – and a number of suburbs.

Conifer Grove Suburb in Auckland City, New Zealand

Conifer Grove is an upper-middle class suburb of Auckland, in northern New Zealand. Located on the eastern shores of the Pahurehure Inlet, on the Manukau Harbour, under authority of the Auckland Council. The suburb makes up the western side of the Takanini urban area and is in the Manurewa-Papakura ward of Auckland City. The suburb is known for its tree-lined streets, bay views, and until 2018 its border with the Manukau Golf Course.

Bob Harvey (mayor)

Sir Robert Anster Harvey is a former mayor of Waitakere City, one of four cities and three districts which until 2010 administered the Auckland urban area in New Zealand. He received the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal in 1990, and was awarded honorary citizenship of Waitakere Sister City Ningbo, People's Republic of China in 2005. He was knighted as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2013 New Year Honours.

Papakura is a suburb of Auckland, in northern New Zealand. It is located on the shores of the Pahurehure Inlet, approximately 32 kilometres south of the Auckland CBD. It is under the authority of the Auckland Council.

Auckland Libraries

Auckland Libraries is the public library system for the Auckland Region of New Zealand. It was created when the seven separate councils in the Auckland region merged in 2010. It is currently the largest public-library network in the Southern Hemisphere with 55 branches from Wellsford to Waiuku.

Auckland railway electrification

Auckland railway electrification occurred in phases as part of investment in a new infrastructure for Auckland's urban railway network. Electrification of the network had been proposed for several decades. Installation started in the late 2000s after funds were approved from a combination of regional and central government budgets.

Auckland Metropolitan area in North Island, New Zealand

Auckland is a large metropolitan city in the North Island of New Zealand. The most populous urban area in the country, Auckland has an urban population of about 1,470,100. It is located in the Auckland Region—the area governed by Auckland Council—which includes outlying rural areas and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,717,500. Auckland is a diverse, multicultural and cosmopolitan city, home to the largest Polynesian population in the world. The Māori-language name for Auckland is Tāmaki Makaurau, meaning "Tāmaki desired by many", in reference to the desirability of its natural resources and geography. The word Tāmaki itself generally meaning an omen.

Auckland Council Unitary territorial authority in Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland Council is the local government council for the Auckland Region in New Zealand. It is a territorial authority that has the responsibilities, duties and powers of a regional council and so is a unitary authority, according to the Local Government Act 2009, which established the Council. The governing body consists of a mayor and 20 councillors, elected from 13 wards. There are also 149 members of 21 local boards who make decisions on matters local to their communities. It is the largest council in Oceania, with a $3 billion annual budget, $29 billion of ratepayer equity, and 9,870 full-time staff as of 30 June 2016. The council began operating on 1 November 2010, combining the functions of the previous regional council and the region's seven city and district councils into one "super council" or "super city".

Royal Commission on Auckland Governance

The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was established by the New Zealand Government to investigate the local government arrangements of Auckland.

Districts of New Zealand

A district in New Zealand is a territorial authority area governed by a district council as a second-tier of local government in New Zealand, below regional councils. They were formed as a result of local government reforms in 1989. There are 53 districts in New Zealand, and they do not include the 12 city councils, Auckland Council, or Chatham Islands Council. District councils serve a combination of rural and urban communities, while city councils administer the larger urban areas. Three districts are unitary authorities also performing the functions of a regional council.

Local government in New Zealand

New Zealand has a unitary system of government in which the authority of the central government defines sub-national entities. Local government in New Zealand has only the powers conferred upon it by the New Zealand Parliament. In general, local authorities are responsible for enabling democratic local decision-making and promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities, as well as more specific functions for which they have delegated authority.


  1. "Territorial authority". Stats NZ. 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  2. "Councils' roles and functions". www.localcouncils.govt.nz. New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs . Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  3. 1 2 "Local Government Act 2002 No 84 (as at 16 May 2020), Public Act – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  4. "Data Table | Territorial Authority 2020 Clipped (generalised) | Stats NZ Geographic Data Service". datafinder.stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
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  6. Local Government Reform in New Zealand [ permanent dead link ] Wallis, J.and Dollery, B. (2000) Local Government Reform in New Zealand. Working Paper Series in Economics, No 2000-7,May 2000, ISBN   1-86389-682-1, University of New England School of Economic Studies, Armidale NSW 2351 Australia. Copyright 2000 by Joe Wallis and Brian Dollery.
  7. "Chatham Islands Council Act 1995". New Zealand Legislation. New Zealand Government. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  8. Thompson, Wayne (28 March 2009). "Super-city tipped to save $113m a year". The New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  9. Thompson, Wayne (8 April 2009). "Proposal 'a great start' says Banks, but other mayors critical – Super City – NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  10. "Protest gets backing". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  11. "Marching for Waitakere". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  12. "Supercity protesters hit the streets – national". Stuff.co.nz. 22 April 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  13. Udanga, Romy. "Call for a united front". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  14. Udanga, Romy. "Supercity fears emerge". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  15. Kemeys, David. "Who stole our voice? – auckland". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  16. "Govt's super-council leaflets anger mayor – National – NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald . 24 April 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  17. Tahana, Yvonne (8 April 2009). "Anger rises over lack of Maori seats – National – NZ Herald News". The New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  18. Kotze, Karen. "Hui calls for representation". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  19. "Let Auckland decide on local government changes | Scoop News". Scoop.co.nz. 24 April 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  20. "Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 No 32 (as at 10 May 2016), Public Act Contents – New Zealand Legislation". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  21. "Better Local Government". Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  22. "Hawke's Bay Reorganisation Poll : PROGRESS RESULT" (PDF). Electionz.com. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  23. "West Coast reorganisation application". www.lgc.govt.nz. New Zealand Local Government Commission. Retrieved 10 September 2020. CC-BY icon.svg Text was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  1. City councils serve a population of more than 50,000 in a predominantly urban area.