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Administrative areas

Local government administrative areas

Regional councils

The regional council is the top tier of local government in New Zealand. Regional councils are defined under schedule 2, part 1 of the Local Government Act 2002. They were established in November 1989 after the abolition of the 22 local government regions. Regional council boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries under schedule 3, clause 17 of the Local Government Act 2002.

In 2018, there are 16 regions which cover every territorial authority in New Zealand, with the exception of the Chatham Islands Territory. Five regions are administered as unitary authorities, which function as both regional council and territorial authority.

Regional council boundaries are based largely on water catchments, such as rivers, lakes, and harbours. The seaward boundary of the regions is the 12-mile (19.3km) New Zealand territorial limit. In determining regions, consideration was also given to regional communities of interest, natural resource management, land use planning, and environmental matters.

The standard classification of regional council is a flat classification and contains 17 categories (including ‘99 – Area Outside Region’). It is released annually on 1 January to coincide with the update of meshblocks, but there are not always changes from the previous classification.

See Classification of Regional Council for more information.

Territorial authorities

Territorial authorities are the second tier of local government in New Zealand, below regional councils. They are defined under schedule 2, part 1 of the Local Government Act 2002 as city councils or district councils. Territorial authorities were established in 1989 when 205 territorial local authorities were replaced by 75 territorial authorities. Territorial boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries under schedule 3, clause 17 of the Local Government Act 2002.

In 2018, there are 67 territorial authorities: 12 city councils, 53 district councils, Auckland Council, and Chatham Islands Council. Five territorial authorities (Auckland Council, Nelson City Council, and the Gisborne, Tasman, and Marlborough district councils) also perform the functions of a regional council and are therefore unitary authorities. The Chatham Islands Council performs some regional council functions.

Territorial authority boundaries are based on community of interest and road access. Some territorial authorities are coterminous with regional council boundaries but there are exceptions. See Alignment with territorial authority and regional council boundaries for more information.

The standard classification of territorial authority is a flat classification and contains 68 categories (including ‘999 – Area Outside Territorial Authority’). It is released annually on 1 January, and occasionally mid-year, but there are not always changes from the previous classification.

See Classification of Territorial Authority for more information.

Electoral areas

General electoral district

General electoral districts are the voting districts for parliamentary elections. They are constituted under section 35 of the Electoral Act 1993 and boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries.

Boundaries are set by the Representation Commission following each five-yearly census. Each electorate must have approximately the same number of people to ensure equal representation. The Representation Commission also considers communities of interest, facilities of communications, topographical features, and any projected variation in the general electoral population of those districts during their existence.

See Classification of General Electoral District for more information.

Māori electoral district

Māori electoral districts are the voting districts for parliamentary elections for people who choose to be on the Māori Electoral Roll. They are constituted under section 45 of the Electoral Act 1993 and boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries.

The number of Māori electoral districts, and electoral population for each Māori electorate, is controlled by the criteria specified in the Electoral Act 1993. When setting the boundaries, the Representation Commission also considers communities of interest among the Māori people generally and members of Māori tribes, facilities of communications, topographical features, and any projected variation in the Māori electoral population of those districts during their existence.

See Classification of Māori Electoral District for more information.

Constituencies, general constituencies, and Māori constituencies

Constituencies are the voting districts for regional council elections. They were first established in November 1989. They are defined under the Local Electoral Act 2001 and boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries under section 19U of the Act.

Constituencies are required to reflect communities of interest, and their boundaries must, so far as is practicable, coincide with territorial authority and ward boundaries.

If a regional council decides to have a Māori constituency, the constituencies within the council area are known as general constituencies and Māori constituencies.

The Local Electoral Act 2001 provides for constituency boundaries to be reviewed before every second triennial local government election.

See Classification of Constituency for more information. 

Wards

Wards are the voting districts for territorial authorities and were first established in November 1989. They are defined under the Local Electoral Act 2001 and boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries under section 19T of the Act.

The ward system was designed to allow communities within a territorial authority to be recognised, and to increase community involvement in local government.

In 2018, the following 12 territorial authorities do not have wards: Rotorua district, Kawerau district, Wairoa district, Whanganui district, Palmerston North city, Upper Hutt city, Carterton district, Nelson city, Kaikoura district, Chatham Islands territory, Dunedin city, and Invercargill city.

The Local Electoral Act 2001 provides for ward boundaries to be reviewed before every second triennial local government election.

See Classification of Ward for more information.

Community boards, local boards, and subdivisions

Community boards

Community boards are defined under the Local Government Act 2002 and Local Electoral Act 2001. Community board boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries under schedule 6, clause 2 of the Local Government Act 2002, and section 19W of the Local Electoral Act 2001.

The purpose of community boards is to administer the affairs of communities with a population of 1,500 or more people within rural, urban, or metropolitan areas of a territorial authority. A community board’s functions, powers, and duties are at the discretion of its parent territorial authority, so these may differ between community boards.

Community boards are a link between the council and the community. Community boards can be established at any time but may only be abolished as part of a council’s regular representation review carried out before the triennial local government elections; this is provided for in the Local Electoral Act 2001.

More than 100 community boards operate in urban and rural areas of territorial authorities, excluding Auckland, which has local boards.

See Classification of Community Board for more information.

Local boards

Local boards were introduced as part of the new local government arrangements for Auckland in 2010. Local board boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries under schedule 3, clause 15 of the Local Government Act 2002, and section 19T of the Local Electoral Act 2001.

Local boards can be established in the area of any unitary authority. Local boards share governance with a council’s governing body, and each has complementary responsibilities guaranteed by legislation. Local boards can propose bylaws and they gather community views on local and regional matters.

See Classification of Community Board for more information.

Subdivisions

Subdivisions are a further division of community or local board areas to ensure fair geographical representation on a community or local board.

Subdivision boundaries must coincide with meshblock boundaries under schedule 3, clause 15 of the Local Government Act 2002, and section 19T of the Local Electoral Act 2001.

See Classification of Territorial Authority Subdivision for more information.

Other administrative boundaries

This section summarises other administrative boundaries that are used to administer government funding and service provision, which are based on meshblocks and higher-level geographies.

District health boards and constituencies

District health boards (DHBs) are administered under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. Boundaries represent geographic areas based on territorial authority and ward boundaries as constituted at 1 January 2001. DHBs and constituencies are defined at meshblock level.

DHB constituencies are the electoral districts within district health boards. In 2018, the Southern DHB is the only DHB that has constituencies.

See Location boundaries (map) on the Ministry of Health website for more information.

Jury districts

High court and district court jury districts are administered under the Juries Act 1981. The Act specifies that each jury district comprises every place that is within 45km of each courthouse by the most practicable route. The Electoral Commission regularly prepares lists for the Ministry of Justice of all potential jurists who live in the meshblocks within a 45km radius of each jury courthouse.

Licensing trust districts and wards, and community trust districts

Licensing trusts and community trusts were originally created to sell liquor in areas where previously no licences to sell liquor existed. They are currently administered under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. Licensing trust districts and wards, and community trust districts, generally coincide with meshblock boundaries, but some do not.

The 2012 Act gives the Local Government Commission the authority to review the boundaries to ensure that they are coterminous with meshblock boundaries. For a list of the boundaries that are not coterminous, see Licensing Trust Districts on the Local Government Commission website.

New Zealand Police boundaries

New Zealand Police districts, police areas, and police station areas are defined by the New Zealand Police for operational and statistical reporting purposes. New Zealand Police boundaries are based on the meshblock pattern.

See Police districts on the New Zealand Police website for more information.

Regional tourism organisations

Regional tourism organisation areas are defined by Regional Tourism Organisations New Zealand (RTONZ). Boundaries generally align with territorial authority boundaries.

See the RTO Location Map on the RTONZ website for more information.

Work and Income boundaries

Accommodation Supplement areas

The Accommodation Supplement provides targeted financial assistance to help people with high accommodation costs. It is administered by Work and Income under the Social Security Act 1964. Accommodation Supplement areas are defined using Stats NZ urban areas, urban zones, and area units. For the purposes of the Social Security Act, SA2s may be considered as equivalent to area units.

Work and Income administration regions are not coterminous with meshblocks.

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