Westland District Council is now performing well

  • Hon Nanaia Mahuta
Local Government

The Minister of Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, is satisfied that the close monitoring of the Westland District Council by an Oversight Committee can draw to a close.

The Minister wrote to the Council in 2019, expressing concern about poor processes, dysfunctional governance and management, non-compliance with policies, and natural hazard management. In December 2019, an Oversight Committee comprising key government agencies was established to support the Council as it worked to improve its performance.

“I am satisfied with the steps taken by the Council to respond to my concerns,” says Minister Mahuta.

“They have continued to make improvements to their governance and operational processes and are now functioning at the level I expect of a well-performing local authority.”

In acknowledging the Council’s success in lifting its performance, the Minister has noted the benefit of providing a level of oversight and support to the Council when needed and the assurance this provided to her that the Council was operating properly.

“The Oversight Committee has provided valuable guidance to the Council over the past six months. I am assured that the Council is now performing well, and that close monitoring is no longer necessary, “says Nanaia Mahuta.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Why did the Minister consider appointing a Crown Observer in the first instance?
    • The Minister was not confident that the Council could govern and manage its business effectively. This was due to concerns being raised consistently over a period of time, indicating that the Council may not have been able to resolve its issues.
    • Under the Local Government Act 2002, intervention may be considered if there is a problem or potential for a problem of significance, as defined by section 256 of the Act.
  2. What was the role of the Oversight Committee?
    • The Oversight Committee was established to monitor the Council’s progress in improving its performance and addressing outstanding issues, and to give the Minister assurance that it was operating properly.
  3. Who was on the Oversight Committee?
    • The Oversight Committee was made up of the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry for the Environment, with the Office of the Auditor General and the Office of the Ombudsman participating as observers.
    • Each of these agencies have an established role in monitoring council peformance across a range of governance and operational matters.
  4. Will the Minister intervene in the Council in the future?
    • If a ‘significant problem’ occurs then the Minister will consider intervention.
  5. What if problems continue to arise?
    • The Council must be responsible for resolving its own problems, as is the expectation for all councils in New Zealand. Should the Council be unable to resolve an issue, the Department of Internal Affairs will work with the Council to find a resolution. However if a ‘significant problem’ should occur, then intervention will be considered. 
  6. Are you going to proactively release the briefings?
    • The Department of Internal Affairs will publish the briefings on its website.