The Planning and Accountability Reference Group promotes high standards of integrated planning and policy development, and the associated accountability and reporting arrangements. The Reference Group primarily focuses on planning and reporting under the Local Government Act 2002, district planning, spatial/integrated strategic planning, and the planning requirements of other legislation.


  • Monitor the environment within which local authorities operate and provide the Executive with timely advice on issues that fall within its responsibilities.
  • 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 Planning and Accountability Reference Group Terms of Reference

Current Members

Chair: Wendy Walker, Chief Executive - Porirua City

Deputy Chair: Sheryl Bryant, General Manager - City Futures at Palmerston North City Council


Susan Edwards, Community Development Manager - Tasman District Council

Michael Hodder, Community and Regulatory Services Group Manager - Rangitīkei District Council

David McCorkindale, Senior Manager Strategic Planning - Horowhenua District Council

Rebecca Perrett, General Manager Environmental Services - Tauranga City Council

Katherine Quinn, Senior Strategic Planner - Hauraki District Council

David Totman, Principal Advisor - Waipā District Council

Kataraina O'Brien, Strategic Engagement Manager - Bay of Plenty Regional Council

2019/20 Report from the Planning and Accountability Reference Group Chair

Wendy Walker, Chief Executive, Porirua City Council

Election year is always a peak year for the Planning Reference Group – the majority of the review of the Taituarā suite of LTP guidance is undertaken in the period from May through to November. 

The Taituarā LTP guidance is now quite mature, with most of it now in at least its fourth iteration. The bulk of the review this time around was to reflect the lessons from the 2018 LTP round and incorporate more examples of good practice. Consequently, the revised versions of the so-called Jigsaw Guide, Dollars and Sense (finance, infrastructure and the LTP) and the Telling Our Stories guide were all released on, or slightly ahead of, schedule.

One of the clear messages from the 2018 LTP round was that the LTP project managers needed more guidance on managing an LTP process. The one substantive ‘new’ guide for this round, Living Though the LTP, was released in August. This includes a process map and helpful tips on other process-related topics such as quality assurance, resourcing and working with elected members. This also includes an LTP readiness check. The one piece of work outstanding at year end, the LTP compliance checklist, also supports this guide.

Each triennium Taituarā undertakes a series of regional events to showcase the key messages from the guidance, and key areas of focus for the following LTP round. We were pleasantly surprised with both the numbers of attendees at the five events, and the range of occupational groupings represented. There were 220 participants across the five events – with only the asset managers conspicuous by their absence.

During the year, several of us contributed to the Department of Internal Affairs’ Local Governance and Community Well-being project. The overall project sought to infuse community well-being into the way councils engage with communities. One of the workstreams considered how local authorities might use the community outcomes process to turn a set of what could be ‘parenthood and apple pie’ well-being statements into concrete actions. A second considered legislative and other barriers to engaging. 

As a result of revisiting of the community outcomes process, we took a last-minute decision to issue the Your Side of the Deal guide in draft form. Part One of that guide received a fundamental rewrite to reflect the reimagining of the community outcomes process, and we wanted to seek the sector’s input. Following that review, and a delay due to the COVID-19 response, we eventually issued the guide in May. The guide remains an invaluable resource for those who need to (or want to) review their performance frameworks from the ground-up.

As the year ended, we were jointly working with the Business Performance Reference Group on two pieces of COVID-19 related guidance. The first is a pragmatic piece of guidance for the sector on the post-COVID-19 LTP, including areas of focus and how to make most use of the year between now and 30 June 2021. The second, of a more financial bent, provides some guidance on things to think about in 2019/20 annual reports.

We also undertook the annual Community Plan event, which was held in Christchurch. The sold-out event had 117 attendees who heard about well-being and the LTP, consultation documents, citizens juries and (of course) the best community engagement practices in 2019.

I thank the other reference group members: Sheryl Bryant, Susan Edwards, Kataraina Belshaw, David McCorkindale, David Totman, Michael Hodder and Hugh Jory for their contributions during the year.