With just a few weeks of 2021 to go, it’s a great time to reflect on this past year. Although the ongoing uncertainties presented by COVID-19 have kept us on our toes, the Taituarā team has kept busy and achieved a lot. We are also excited and looking forward to next year. So here are five things key things we’ve done in 2021, and five things to look out for in 2022.

These are five things Taituarā ‘nailed’ in 2021

1. Our collaborative approach

Taituarā worked with our members across the country’s 78 councils, and on their behalf in partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ). Based on the COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit model from 2020, we have continued our partnership approach with LGNZ and DIA for Three Waters reform and the Libraries Partnership, and with LGNZ and the Ministry for the Environment for Resource Management reform. We’ve had an ongoing partnership with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for the Co-Cre8 Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and more recently we’ve been talking to the Ministry of Social Development about the regional leadership approach.  

2. Support of good practice in the local government sector

    We support the sector deliver outcomes for their communities now as well as focussing on future requirements, and thus started the year by providing support to councils’ Long-Term Plan processes via new content on our LGSectorGoodToolkit. In November, our Great CD Competition highlighted the range of consultation documents used to engage communities in their councils’ long-term planning process. It’s great to see them improving year on year. We have also recognised fantastic examples of the work going on in councils through our Excellence Awards announced in May. From whenua Māori to counterterrorism, and from libraries to liquefaction we’ve held webinars on all manner of topics to help keep the sector updated and share best practice from across the motu. Our newest innovation was the introduction of our Showcase Tours, launched in August.

    3. Our submissions on government policy and legislation

      It’s hard to remember a time when there has been as many consultation processes on the go. The Taituarā team has risen to the occasion, having submitted on over a dozen areas affecting the local government sector. This is a vital aspect of the enduring central-local government partnership.

      4. Beginning our te reo Māori journey

        This year we’ve be working with Tūraukawa Bartlett from cultural competency agency Manavation to increase our team’s reo use and understanding of te ao Māori. We have strived to embed this into the way we work – this has included changing our name from SOLGM to Taituarā — Local Government Professionals Aotearoa in February.

        5. Embracing future challenges

          We’ve built upon our Navigating Critical 21st Century Transitions work and used it to inform our approach moving forward. We’ve been engaged with the Future for Local Government Review panel, contributing to their Ārewa ake te Kaupapa report, and setting the scene for continuing engagement with them in 2022.

          And five things to look out for in 2022

          1. An increased interest in local government will drive increased voter turnout

            We can expect increased media attention on the Three Waters reforms as well as a growing public realisation that many of the answers to the big issues of our time like climate change and housing sit with local government. The addition of Māori wards for the first time in many councils is likely to re-invigorate Māori interest in local decision-making. It will be a great outcome for our democracy if these all drive increased participation in next year’s local body elections which take place on 8 October 2022. Our Elections Reference Group is already busy working to provide leadership and support to the local government sector on the Vote 2022 campaign.

            2. New regional models of working together with central government

              The RMA reform programme is likely to inform a new regional focus on strategic planning, straddling national-level one-size-fits-all approaches and the more localised models we have with current District Plans. In addition to the Ministry for the Environment, the Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Ministry of Social Development are also thinking about ways to bring groups of cities/districts together to achieve better outcomes for communities though economies of scale and regional partnership. The ‘trick’ of course is not to lose sight of our streets and neighbourhoods while reaping regional benefits.

              3. Councils demonstrate more tangible involvement in promoting community well-being

                Local government holds the keys (if not the wallet) to delivering increased community well-being. As the central government idea of regional leadership strengthens, councils have an opportunity to become the ’convenor of place‘, ensuring greater coordination of the wide range of government initiatives occurring across New Zealand. New partnerships with iwi/Māori are likely to drive an increased focus on raising outcomes for the whole community in particular rohe, for the benefit of all.

                4. Our sector will re-imagine the future

                  We’ll hear more on iwi/Māori partnerships, demographic shifts, and the impact of climate change as we consider how to shape local government for the future. Social movements from beyond our shores like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter will continue to inspire and influence our local thinking. This means people no longer just accepting representative democracy. Rather we can expect more examples of participative democracy popping up across the motu. You can get a taste of some of the future-focussed ideas being shared online in this latest website survey report from the Review into the Future for Local Government.

                  5. Continuing recognition of excellence in local government ‘here and now’

                    There is a colossal amount of good work going on in local government across Aotearoa New Zealand right now. The Future for Local Government Review Panel is set to release its final report in April 2023. The Minister has indicated that she is eager to recognise new models of community-council collaboration. It’s important that we don’t wait until April 2023 – we need to draw attention to success stories in 2022. Taituarā will help do this through our 2022 LGFA Taituarā Local Government Excellence Awards as well as by showcasing more inspirational council-community initiatives like we did with the inaugural Taituarā showcase tour focussed on the Hastings Place Based Housing Plan. We have the amazing work being done by The Southern Initiative, the Ōpōtiki harbour development, the Milford Opportunities Project, and the Te Arawa Partnership model in Rotorua in our sights!

                    So, there is indeed a lot of exciting mahi on the cards for 2022! But first I hope you can take some time for rest and relaxation, visit some new and favourite places in our beautiful land, and enjoy a wonderful Christmas and New Year break surrounded by your loved ones. I very much look forward to working with you all again in 2022.

                    Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou ki a koutou katoa,

                    Karen Thomas

                    Chief Executive, Taituarā