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Annual local authority financial statistics: Year ended June 2009 – Technical notes

bullet icon.  Back to Annual local authority financial statistics: Year ended June 2009

Technical notes

Statistics in the Excel tables provide the first available information on annual local authority financial statistics for the year ended June 2009. These statistics use the audited annual financial accounts of local authorities.

Data source

Data in the Excel tables is derived from the annual Local Authority Census. This census collects financial information on the activities of all 12 regional councils and 73 territorial authorities responsible for local government in New Zealand. In addition, data from the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) is included. ARTA carries out the planning, funding, and coordination of public transport across Auckland but not the operation of public transport. Therefore, ARTA is treated as a local authority in these statistics while other Council Controlled Organisations (CCO) are not.

The information provided in the Local Authority Census is based on audited annual financial accounts and is validated against the annual reports of each council. However, due to varying organisational structures and accounting systems within local authorities, data for some council activities and variables is not available or has been estimated.

Local government

New Zealand has a system of local government administered by local authorities. Local authorities comprise city councils, district councils, regional councils, and unitary authorities. Unitary authorities are city and district councils that also perform the functions of a regional council. Local authorities all have elected boards called councils 

Local government funding

Councils are free to set their expenditure priorities and overall levels of expenditure. They receive income from many sources including rates, sales, and grants. Local government in New Zealand is not involved in the funding, administration, or management of education, social welfare, police, traffic control and enforcement, or urban fire services.


The Excel tables present information on local authority income, expenditure, and balances for operating, non-operating, and capital transactions, along with information on local authority activity and financial position items.

The data also reflects the equity councils have in CCO, the dividends they receive from them, and other transactions that take place between councils and CCO. Before the formation of CCO, activities that are currently undertaken by some CCO may have been included in the information provided by local authorities.

Historical series within the published tables vary in length due to changes made to the census over time.

Descriptions of the income and expenditure data items


Income from current operations

Include all forms of rates such as uniform annual general charges, water rates, and targeted rates. Targeted rates are rates that enable a council to apply a special purpose rate to particular properties, such as wastewater, sewerage, or town centre rate. Rates collected on behalf of other local authorities (such as regional councils) are not included. Water sold by meter is included in sales and other operating income.

    Regulatory income and petrol tax 
      Include fees, consents, fines, penalties (including rates penalties), and local and regional council petrol taxes. Examples of regulatory income include parking fines, building consents, and dog registration fees. Admission and parking charges are treated as sales and other operating income.
    Current grants, subsidies, and donations income 
      Include those from central government (such as roading and transport grants from New Zealand Transport Agency) as well as those from all other sources for operational (current) use.
    Interest income 
      Includes interest earned from interest bearing deposits, short and long-term investments, loans, and all other interest bearing investments.
    Dividend income 
      Arises from council ownership of equity in CCO and other entities, and includes councils’ share of profits or losses from associates.
    Sales and other operating income 
      Include income from admission charges, water sold by meter, rental income from properties, rubbish bag sales, and other miscellaneous operating income. Internal transfers and charges (such as overheads) are excluded.
  Income from non-operating transactions 
    Income from valuation changes 
      Includes realised and unrealised gains on the revaluation of financial assets and liabilities (including foreign exchange transactions), and gains on the sale of fixed assets.
    Other non-operating income
      Includes all other non-operating income not included elsewhere.
  Income from capital transactions 
    Capital grants, subsidies, and donations income 
      Include those from central government (such as roading and transport grants from New Zealand Transport Agency) as well as those from all other sources, for capital use.
    Development and financial contributions 
      Development contributions are charges placed on developers for development work (such as subdivisions or buildings) to cover additional infrastructure costs incurred by councils.
Financial contributions are charges imposed to promote sustainable management of natural and physical resources. These contributions may be financial and non-financial (such as land).

Vested assets
The transfer of ownership or control of assets by a third party to local authorities. This includes transfer of roads and land from developers, or special purpose (restricted use) transfers such as reserve land.


Expenditure on current operations
Employee costs
  Gross earnings of all paid employees in the authority. Overtime, sick and holiday pay, severance and redundancy payments, levies paid to the Accident Compensation Corporation, and employer contributions to superannuation schemes are all included.
Depreciation and amortisation
Depreciation on fixed assets includes depreciation on infrastructural assets, restricted assets, buildings, vehicles, other plant, machinery and office equipment, and all other types of fixed assets.
Amortisation is charged on intangible assets, the most significant being computer software.

    Current grants, subsidies, and donations expenditure
      Include those that local authorities give to others for operational (current) use.
    Interest expenditure 
      Includes interest on all loans and other interest bearing liabilities raised by councils.
    Purchases and other operating expenditure 
      Include payments for expert advice and services (such as consultants, legal, and other experts), business and property insurance premium payments, rent, fuel, postage, repairs and maintenance, contracts for services, fringe benefit tax, and other purchases of goods and services.

Expenditure on non-operating transactions
Expenditure on valuation changes, provisions, and write-offs
Include realised and unrealised losses on the revaluation of financial assets and liabilities (including foreign exchange transactions), losses on the sale of fixed assets, and provisions for doubtful debts, and write-off of bad debts.

Other non-operating expenditure
Includes all other non-operating expenditure not included elsewhere.

Expenditure on capital transactions
Capital grants, subsidies, and donations expenditure
Include those that local authorities give to others for capital use.


Descriptions of the financial position data items


  Current assets 
    Cash and bank deposits 

    Other current assets 
      Include stocks (inventory), short-term accounts receivable, prepayments, Treasury bills, and short-term loans.

  Non-current assets
Fixed assets
Infrastructural assets
Include fixed assets such as roads and bridges, water supply systems, sewerage and stormwater systems, river and flood control, and landfill systems.

Land and buildings
Include all land, land improvements, social housing and all other buildings (such as libraries, swimming complexes, and stadia).

Other fixed assets
Include vehicles; plant, machinery, and equipment; computer hardware and software; and library books.

Includes long-term deposits, stocks, bonds, and equity investments.

Other non-current assets
Include long-term accounts receivable and long-term loans.

Liabilities and equity 

Current liabilities
Current debt
Includes short-term debt as well as the portion of term debt due to be paid within the next 12 months.

Other current liabilities
Include short-term provision for employee entitlements, short-term accounts payable, short-term provision for landfill aftercare, and pre-payments.

Non-current liabilities
Term debt
Includes debt due to be paid after the next 12 months.

Other non-current liabilities
Include long-term provision for employee entitlements, long-term accounts payable, and long-term provision for landfill aftercare.

Descriptions of the activities presented in the activity tables





Includes maintenance of gravel and tar-sealed roadways, bridges, cycle lanes, verges, and footpaths.


Includes bus and all other forms of passenger transport such as rail, trams and ferries, parking (including on-road and council-managed car parks), airports, and transport planning.

Water supply

Includes both drinking and non-drinking water supply, delivery networks and storage (such as reservoirs), irrigation and water treatment.


Includes sewerage network systems (including mains), sewage treatment (such as oxidation ponds), stormwater disposal (such as water run-off from roads, driveways, footpaths, and rooftops), culverts, and drains.

Solid waste/refuse

Includes the collection, recycling, recovery, and disposal of solid waste and refuse, landfill operations, street and roadside rubbish bins, recycling centres, reusable materials depots, and roadside recycling.

Environmental protection

Includes air and water quality measurement and education, land and soil management (soil conservation, erosion control, shelter belts, non-urban run-off), flood protection and river control, agricultural effluent monitoring, and pest management (such as opossum, rabbit, and invasive weed control).


Includes library facilities and materials (books, CDs, etc), museums and galleries (including historical and scientific preservation), and festivals and events.

Recreation and sport

Includes aquatic and sports facilities, zoological and botanical gardens, parks, reserves and playgrounds (such as bike and walking tracks, and parks and trails), and marine recreational facilities (such as berths, moorings, and access ways to water for sport and recreation activities).


Includes social housing (such as housing programmes for low income earners and disadvantaged groups), community property (such as community halls, heritage sites, and camping grounds), council-owned property, commercial property (such as leased parking buildings and concert and cultural events facilities), and cemeteries and crematoria.

Emergency management

Includes emergency and disaster management (such as rural fire and civil defence services).

Planning and regulation

Includes building control (such as building consents, code compliance certification, and LIM reports (Land Information Memoranda), resource management (such as district and coastal policy and planning, city and town planning, and consent processing and hearings), animal control (such as dog registration, stock control, and trapping), environmental health (such as food and hairdressing premise regulation and licensing), health nuisance control (such as food poisoning investigations), liquor licensing, enforcement of council bylaws, and marine safety.

Community development

Includes community support (such as funding community organisations and projects), iwi liaison, social and research grants, community advocacy, and community safety (such as CCTV, street lighting, and emergency housing).

Economic development

Includes business and tourism promotion.


From 2009, includes financial matters related to the elected councils and community boards. Before 2009, governance is likely to have included governance, community development, economic development, council support services, and other activities.

Council support services

Include overheads for local authority administration, finance, IT, and HR functions as well as report preparation (such as annual reports and long-term council community plans).

Other activities

Include all activities undertaken by councils that are not included in the above categories.

Annual Local Authority Census and quarterly Local Authority Survey

Statistics NZ also releases quarterly local authority operating income and expenditure estimates. These are sourced from the quarterly Local Authority Survey. The survey includes the same regional councils and territorial authorities, and data is reconciled with the annual results obtained in the Local Authority Census. However, unlike the Local Authority Census, the quarterly survey does not collect financial position data or information by activity. Additionally, information about individual local authorities is not released.

For more information on the quarterly Local Authority Survey, read the 'Technical notes' of the quarterly local authority statistics release available on the Statistics NZ website (see Local Authority Statistics – Information releases).


Statistics for recent periods are based on information available at the time of publication and are subject to revision as additional or improved data becomes available.


Information obtained from Statistics NZ may be freely used, reproduced, or quoted unless otherwise specified. In all cases, Statistics NZ must be acknowledged as the source.


While care has been used in processing, analysing, and extracting information, Statistics NZ gives no warranty that the information supplied is free from error. Statistics NZ shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of any information, product or service.


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