The 1989 local government reform was the most significant reform of local government in New Zealand in over a century. Some 850 local bodies were amalgamated into 86 local authorities, made up of regional and territorial levels.
The last major local government reform was carried out through the abolition of provincial government. With effect of 1 January 1877, local government was vested in elected borough and county councils. The Counties Bill of 1876 created 63 counties out of the rural parts of the former provinces. Over the years, many new bodies were set up. Some of these bodies were multi-purpose, whilst others (for example harbour boards) were single-purpose. The Local Government Act 1974 consolidated the previous law relating to local government that applied to territorial local authorities, regional and district council bodies. It enabled the establishment of regional councils, but these were not established until the 1989 reform.
The Labour Party had the reform of local government as one of its policies for the 1984 election but without much detail; the proposals were developed during the first term of the Fourth Labour Government following the party's win in 1984. Michael Bassett was Minister of Local Government and he appointed a Local Government Commission, which was chaired by Brian Elwood from 1 April 1985 to 1 November 1992. The government had given the commission a guarantee that their findings would be regarded as binding. The resulting local government reform was undertaken along the lines of neo-liberal economic theory, and was done in conjunction with the economic reform that have become known as Rogernomics. Some 850 entities were amalgamated into 86 local authorities, made up of regional and territorial levels. Of the 850 entities, 249 were municipalities; the remainder were harbour boards, catchment boards, and drainage boards. Brian Rudman, a journalist and editorial writer for The New Zealand Herald, called the reforms "revolutionary".
Results of the reform
New Zealand was divided into 14 regions, of which 13 were regional authorities, and the remaining one, Gisborne, was a unitary authority. Unitary authorities in New Zealand are district (or city) authorities that also fulfil the function of a regional authority.
|Region||Regional council||Council seat||Island|
|1||Gisborne||Gisborne District Council||Gisborne||North|
|1||Northland||Northland Regional Council||Whangarei||North|
|2||Auckland||Auckland Regional Council||Auckland||North|
|3||Waikato||Waikato Regional Council||Hamilton||North|
|4||Bay of Plenty||Bay of Plenty Regional Council||Whakatane||North|
|5||Hawke's Bay||Hawke's Bay Regional Council||Napier||North|
|6||Taranaki||Taranaki Regional Council||Stratford||North|
|7||Manawatu-Wanganui||Horizons Regional Council||Palmerston North||North|
|8||Wellington||Greater Wellington Regional Council||Wellington||North|
|9||Nelson-Marlborough||Nelson-Marlborough Regional Council||Blenheim||South|
|10||West Coast||West Coast Regional Council||Greymouth||South|
|11||Canterbury||Canterbury Regional Council||Christchurch||South|
|12||Otago||Otago Regional Council||Dunedin||South|
|13||Southland||Southland Regional Council||Invercargill||South|
At a territorial level, district and city authorities were created. The area of a district may belong to more than one regional authority.
|1||Far North District||Kaikohe||Northland||North|
|6||North Shore City||Takapuna||Auckland||North|
|10||Franklin District||Pukekohe||Waikato (60.18%) |
|14||Matamata-Piako District||Te Aroha||Waikato||North|
|16||Waipa District||Te Awamutu||Waikato||North|
|17||South Waikato District||Tokoroa||Waikato||North|
|19||Waitomo District||Te Kuiti||Waikato (94.87%) |
|20||Taupo District||Taupo||Waikato (73.74%) |
Bay of Plenty (14.31%)
Hawke's Bay (11.26%)
|21||Western Bay of Plenty District||Greerton, Tauranga City||Bay of Plenty||North|
|22||Tauranga District||Tauranga||Bay of Plenty||North|
|23||Opotiki District||Opotiki||Bay of Plenty||North|
|24||Whakatane District||Whakatane||Bay of Plenty||North|
|25||Rotorua District||Rotorua||Bay of Plenty (61.52%) |
|26||Kawerau District||Kawerau||Bay of Plenty||North|
|27||Gisborne District||Gisborne||Gisborne (unitary authority)||North|
|28||Wairoa District||Wairoa||Hawke's Bay||North|
|29||Hastings District||Hastings||Hawke's Bay||North|
|30||Napier City||Napier||Hawke's Bay||North|
|31||Central Hawke's Bay District||Waipawa||Hawke's Bay||North|
|32||New Plymouth District||New Plymouth||Taranaki||North|
|33||Stratford District||Stratford||Taranaki (68.13%) |
|34||South Taranaki District||Hawera||Taranaki||North|
|36||Rangitikei District||Marton||Manawatu-Wanganui (86.37%) |
Hawke's Bay (13.63%)
|39||Palmerston North City||Palmerston North||Manawatu-Wanganui||North|
|40||Tararua District||Dannevirke||Manawatu-Wanganui (98.42%) |
|43||Kapiti Coast District||Paraparaumu||Wellington||North|
|45||South Wairarapa District||Martinborough||Wellington||North|
|46||Upper Hutt City||Upper Hutt||Wellington||North|
|48||Hutt City||Lower Hutt||Wellington||North|
|54||Buller District||Westport||West Coast||South|
|55||Grey District||Greymouth||West Coast||South|
|56||Westland District||Hokitika||West Coast||South|
|66||Waitaki District||Oamaru||Canterbury (59.61%) |
|68||Central Otago District||Alexandra||Otago||South|
- McKinnon, Malcolm (13 July 2012). "Colonial and provincial government - Julius Vogel and the abolition of provincial government". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Derby, Mark (13 July 2012). "Local and regional government - Reforming local government". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Commission Members since 1947". Local Government Commission. Archived from the original on 7 February 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- Rudman, Brian (15 August 2007). "Brian Rudman: Sir Brian Elwood struck the right note with big reforms of 1989". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
- Sancton, Andrew (2000). Merger Mania. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 84. ISBN 0773521631. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
- "Unitary authority". Nelson City Council. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2015.