The Business Performance Reference Group promotes high standards of financial management, performance measurement and management, asset management, and the use of these disciplines as drivers of business transformation.


  • Develop and present sector responses on issues in response to developments in the policy and operational environment, or in anticipation of such developments. Development of such responses may be in conjunction with other bodies (for example, Local Government New Zealand and the New Zealand Planning Institute)
  • Identify good practice in local authority planning and disseminate this to the local government sector
  • Identify training and professional development needs relevant to planning, and develop or commission programmes to meet those needs.
  • Build relationships with those stakeholders with interests in, or the ability to influence, planning policy and practice in local authorities.

View/download the Business Performance Reference Group Terms of Reference.

Current Members


Jim Palmer, Chief Executive - Waimakariri District Council

Deputy Chair:

Kevin Ramsey, Group Manager, Corporate Finance and Property - Auckland Council


Diane Brandish, Head of Financial Management - Christchurch City Council

Martin Fletcher, Chief Financial Officer - Marlborough District Council

Mike Nield, Director Corporate Services - Taranaki Regional Council

Bronda Smith, Chief Financial Officer - Central Hawkes Bay District Council

Hamish Waugh, General Manager - Infrastructure - Manawatū District Council.

2019/20 Report from Business Performance Reference Group Chair

Jim Palmer, Chief Executive, Waimakariri District Council

There has been a very strong advocacy and policy development flavour to our work this year. The largest piece of advocacy lay in the development of the Taituarã submission to the Productivity Commission’s draft report on local government funding and financing. We generally agreed with what the Commission had to say. However, we didn’t support every recommendation, including the Commission’s suggestion that every activity manager’s budget be automatically adjusted for inflation. As a result of our representations (among others), the Commission made more of a shift between the draft and final report than is usually the case.  

Additionally, we’ve had a hand in the development of submissions on seven pieces of legislation or other reviews on matters as diverse as the review of Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) funding and the Rates Rebate Amendment Bill.

Members of the Reference Group contributed to the review of the LTP guidance which is covered in the Planning Working Party’s report. Our contribution lay mostly in the redevelopment of the guidance on the financial and infrastructure strategies and (to a lesser extent) the review of the guide known as Your Side of the Deal.

We took our first tentative steps towards developing a set of business insight indicators. We compiled a set of test financial indicators for the nine councils represented on the Business Performance Reference Group. These are common financial measures drawn from annual report data and information from Stats NZ. We’ve resolved to expand the test sample and to commence discussions with the Workforce Working Party regarding an expansion to human resources management indicators. 

BPP also maintains a stable of leading practice events: 

  • The Funding and Rating Forum was held in October with 122 attendees. We took a conscious decision to develop a programme that emphasised ‘funding’ as opposed to ‘rating’, with expanded content on non-rates sources of funding – growth funding, the use of fees and charges, crowdfunding and sponsorship.  We also received an in-depth briefing on the online rates rebates trial. Thanks to our sponsors – Ibis, LGFA and QV rating.
  • This year’s Marsh Risk Management Forum was held in late February with 52 attendees. There were three major areas of focus at this year’s event – cybersecurity, audit and risk committees and climate risks.
  • We were due to hold the Civic Financial Services Strategic Finance Forum on 26 and 27 March. With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases entering the country in mid-March we had no other option than to cancel the face-to-face Forum (the week before lockdown) and move the event online. Ninety-two individuals registered. I would like to thank the three sponsors – Civic Financial Services, Ibis and LGFA for their commitment during this time.  

I thank my fellow reference group members: Kevin Ramsay, Diane Brandish, Martin Fletcher, Sarah Markley, Olive McVicker, Mike Nield, Andrea Reeves, Bronda Smith and Hamish Waugh for their work during the year.