Local Government Strategy & Advisory
Specialist knowledge across the diverse needs of Council
Our Local Government Strategy & Advisory Group comprises lawyers from a range of practice areas. 

Our Group has the experience and specialist knowledge to provide advice on all council-related matters including resource management, property, insurance, commercial, employment and litigation.

We regularly provide advice to district and regional councils along with corporate clients, developers and other private clients on local government-related matters.

Wynn Williams has specialist expertise in advising regional councils and is preferred legal service provider to two of the three largest regional councils in New Zealand.  

Wynn Williams has a complete understanding of how councils work and we understand things from a local authority perspective.

We know the legislative framework within which local authorities operate, and regularly advise on matters under the Local Government Act and associated legislation, including the Public Works Act, Local Government (Rating) Act and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. In addition to providing advice on statutory obligations, we are regularly instructed on litigation matters, including judicial review proceedings.

We are experienced in tangata whenua and Treaty of Waitangi issues, having advised local rūnanga, and having acted in Māori litigation from the Māori Land Court to the Privy Council.  We also advise on governance issues, including proposed co-government arrangements between local authorities and iwi.

We are also able to advise on biosecurity issues and legislation.  See our Biosecurity page for further details.

To read the most recent edition of our Local Government Update newsletter, please click here.  You can subscribe to this newsletter here


Recent Projects

  • Advising Environment Canterbury and Environment Southland on contractual issues, intellectual property, and general commercial law matters.
  • We are the lead legal provider for both Environment Canterbury and the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy Partners, including acting for the UDS Partners in the High Court and Court of Appeal in relation to earthquake recovery decisions by the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery.
  • We have undertaken a comprehensive review of delegations by a local authority, including those under the Resource Management Act and Local Government Act. The review involved identifying the delegable powers and functions of a regional council under those acts, comparing them with the council's existing delegations, advising where amendments were required, as well as areas where the council should consider having additional delegations in place.
  • Our team has advised a local authority on whether its parallel consultation process met the requirements of the Local Government Act. We combined our pragmatic commercial experience to the local government context to ensure that the Council could still carry out its necessary work whilst complying with its statutory requirements.
  • We are experienced in reviewing and providing advice on council documents (such as meeting agendas and minutes) and regularly brief councillors and commissioners on local government issues.
  • Advised Environment Canterbury on the Local Government Act requirements to be met in the promulgation of a bylaw, including notification, the special consultative procedure, the hearing procedure and decision making. We reviewed the bylaw at various stages of its development, assisted with the preparation of the public notices, and provided advice on the scope and content of the bylaw. We also undertook a review of the bylaw to assess potential judicial review risk.
  • We regularly advise on the disclosure of official information and procedural requirements under LGOIMA and liaise with the Ombudsman's Office on disputed information requests. We also advise on council's administrative law obligations, including actual and potential conflicts of interest and bias.
  • We advise on various development contributions issues, including providing advice in respect of a subdivision development by negotiating a more favourable outcome for our client.



‘Accessible Streets’ rule package proposed by the Associate Minister of Transport

The Associate Minister of Transport has proposed an ‘Accessible Streets’ rule package which seeks to improve the safety and efficiency of multiple types of transport.

Keep reading...


Local Government – Urgent amendments to legislation to deal with COVID-19 pandemic

This update focuses on the changes to the LGA and the LGOIMA, in relation to holding meetings through audio or audiovisual link, and amendments regarding public access and posting of agendas.

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The pitfalls of Airbnb

In Christchurch, and around the country, home owners and renters alike have been renting out their spare bedrooms and baches to visitors via websites like Airbnb. The explosion in listings on these sites has led to complaints from neighbours about noisy guests (in turn leading to compliance action being taken by district and city councils), and complaints that the hosts (i.e., the person renting the room to guests) are not paying their fair share in rates.

Keep reading...


Further changes to the management of freshwater in NZ

The Government has announced its plan to tackle water quality issues in New Zealand, with a focus on stopping further degradation and loss, reversing past damage, and addressing water allocation issues.

Keep reading...


Rating powers of local authorities

The Court of Appeal recently issued its judgment in Northland Regional Council v Kaipara District Council [2018] NZCA 63, being the latest development in a longstanding argument regarding the validity of rates set by the Northland Regional Council.

Keep reading...


Legislative update: restoring the "four aspects of well-being"

The Government has introduced two new Bills which are due to have their First Reading next week: the Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Bill, and the Local Electoral Matters Bill.

Keep reading...


Earthquake-prone buildings: an update

On 1 July 2017, the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 came into force. It amends the Building Act 2004 to include special provisions for earthquake-prone buildings and replaces the individual earthquake-prone building policies.

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The future of the Resource Management Act – is the current Resource Legislation Amendment Bill the final amendment?

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill is currently progressing through Parliament whilst Government is undertaking other pieces of significant work in relation to the New Zealand planning system, which brings into question the fate of the Resource Management Act 1991.

Keep reading...


Court confirms wide-ranging rating powers

The recent decision of the High Court in Meridian Energy Company v Wellington City Council [2017] NZHC 48 has reaffirmed the broad discretion and wide-ranging powers of local bodies to set rates under the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (Rating Act). The Court has also confirmed that both general and target rates can be set differentially, within the one rating unit, depending on the use to which the land is put.

Keep reading...


Have your say on the Draft New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is calling for submissions on the recently released Draft New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy 2017-2022.

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Better local services - Local Government Act amendments

Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has recently announced further reforms to the local government sector to improve the service delivery and infrastructure provision arrangements at the local government level.

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The New Framework to Regenerate Christchurch

Christchurch has a new legal framework to support regeneration over the next five years. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 ("CER Act") expired on 19 April 2016 and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority is no more. The CER Act has been replaced by the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act 2016 (the "Act").

Keep reading...


LGA Reforms

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act 2014 (the "Act"), which came into force on 7 August 2014, implements the Government's second phase of legislative reform of the operation of local government. The Act contains some significant changes for local authorities in relation to development contributions, local boards, delivery and governance of services, consultation in decision making, and infrastructure strategies. We outline some of these changes below.

Keep reading...


LGA Reform Update

On 4 November 2013, the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) (the "Bill") was introduced into Parliament. The Bill details the Government's second phase of the "Better Local Government" reform programme, which aims to encourage and enable local authorities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations and processes.

Keep reading...


Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill

The Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill was introduced in Parliament on 16 May 2013. A very short period of consultation was allowed, with submissions to the Select Committee due on 30 May 2013.

Keep reading...


Hutt City Council v The Lower Hutt District Court [2013] NZHC 706

Section 181(2) of the Local Government Act 2002 empowers territorial authorities to construct sewage and stormwater drainage works "on or under private land". This case was the first occasion the High Court has been required to interpret section 181(2) of the Act.

Keep reading...


Do Council's owe a Duty of Care when Issuing S 224 Certificates?

The Courts have recently looked at the issue of whether a Council owes a duty to take reasonable care in issuing a section 224 certificate and ensuring registration of a consent notice under the Resource Management Act 1991.  The outcome of these proceedings may have important consequences for local authorities.

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Summary of Decisions Requested on Proposed Plans - the Importance of Getting it Right

Many local authorities around the country are in the process of reviewing regional and district plans, prior to notifying proposed new versions of those documents.  Interested persons will be able to lodge submissions and further submissions on the proposed plans.

Keep reading...


Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill

This Bill aims to improve the operation of local government and the delivery of public services by focusing councils on operating more efficiently and within a more confined sphere than currently.

Keep reading...


Local Body Rates - Has The Ratepayer Any Say?

In this article, Andrew Young discusses recent events in the Auckland region that have highlighted local
body rates and raised the question what can be done by a ratepayer to object to the rates levied. The
discussion and publicity around the issue has singularly lacked in any consideration of the rating process or
any constructive suggestions as to how the public can have a say.

Keep reading...

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Wynn Williams Christchurch
Level 5, Wynn Williams House, 47 Hereford Street, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand.
PO Box 4341, DX WX11179, Christchurch 8140.
+64 3 379 7622
+64 3 379 2467
Wynn Williams Auckland
Level 25, Vero Centre, 48 Shortland Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.
PO Box 2401, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.
+64 9 300 2600
+64 9 300 2609

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